|Outreach N° 95 - Learning by Doing - Leaflets on Waste and Recycling (OUTREACH - UNEP - WWF, 46 p.)|
Suppose there was not enough paper for everyone in your school to write on. What could be done? Well, the obvious answer is: hand out slates (blackboards) and chalk! But suppose you still had to solve the problem of insufficient school paper supplies. One solution might be to turn used paper back into new paper again - to recycle! Making paper from waste is what this leaflet is all about.
Activity 1: Looking closer at paper
Tear a piece of paper, and look at a torn edge. What do you see? (Use a hand magnifying glass to see more clearly.) At the torn edge are fine, thread-like wisps. These are fibres. Paper consists of cellulose, the material found in many plants, such as trees and wheat, rice and sugar cane. Paper fibres can be recycled to make new paper.
Activity 2: Making pulp
For the first step in recycling paper you will need:
* old paper, such as newspaper or old exercise book paper;
* a stirring spoon;
* a container;
* (optional) a hand magnifying lens: if this is not available, make one by filling a small round bottle with water and holding this over the object being viewed;
* (optional) cornstarch.
2. Cover with water (hot water if possible), and leave to soak for three or four days. Stir the mixture every day.
What does the mixture look like? What has happened to the paper fibres? Use a hand lens to find out.
The small shreds of paper suspended in the water as a slurry look like thick soup or oatmeal. You will see that the fibres are loose and free of the substances that binded them. This process of releasing the fibres is called 'pulping', and the mass of fibres, no longer held together but now suspended in water, is known as 'pulp'. The pulp is ready to use to make paper.
3. (optional) Add some corn starch into the mixture.
Activity 3: More pulp-making experiments
Alter the basic steps in Activity 2 in each of the following ways. Record what you do and the results you obtain.
(a) Make pulp from old newspapers and then from old exercise books. Would you have to alter the pulp-making process to prepare the latter? What colour is the pulp made from newspaper? From exercise book paper?
(b) Make the pulp from large pieces of paper and then from tiny pieces;
(c) Soak the paper for shorter and for longer periods.
(d) Add small amounts of shredded vegetable waste (e.g. orange peels, carrot tops) to the scrap paper in step 1 of Activity 2.
(e) Add different dyes to the pulp if you want coloured paper.
Activity 4: Making pulp from other waste
Because paper fibres consist of cellulose, you can make pulp from other wastes that are made from plant materials.
You will need:
* a source of cellulose - for example, fine cotton rags, old paper, scrap wood, leftover crops, waste hemp;
* meat mincer or a smooth stone and large rock;
* diluted caustic soda - sodium hydroxide (from a chemist shop);
2. To break down the fibres, boil the material in water.
3. Put the material through a meat mincer, or beat it with a smooth stone on a large rock to separate the fibres.
4. Leave for a day in a bowl of diluted caustic soda. Then, rinse thoroughly in cold water.
5. Put 1 part fibre with 20 parts water into a big container (e.g. barrel), and mix thoroughly.
Activity 5: Making paper
Now you are ready to make paper. You will need:
* a flat dish or pan;
* pulp (from Activity 2 or 3);
* a fine wire mesh screen or an old net curtain stretched over an old picture frame, and secured with pins or tacks;
* some sheets of felt;
* a jar with a secure lid holding small stones, sand, dirt or water,
* heavy weights (e.g. stones) and/or a clothes mangle (wringer) and hardboard.
1. Pour some pulp into the flat dish. (1)
2. Slide the wire mesh screen into the bottom of the dish, and scoop out some pulp. Spread evenly over the screen.
3. Lift the screen out carefully. Hold level, and let it drain for a minute. (2)
4. Lay the screen, pulp side up, flat on newspaper and place a damp sheet of felt over it. (3)
5. Gently turn the screen, pulp and felt 'sandwich' over so the screen is on top. Carefully lift the screen off, and then cover the pulp mush with another piece of felt.
6. Roll a jar full of stones, sand, dirt or water over the pulp 'sandwich' to squeeze out more water. (4)
7. Stack layers of felt and pulp 'sandwiches' alternatively. Then, put heavy weights on the pile to press out more water.
8. If you have an old-fashioned clothes mangle (wringer), you can put each 'sandwich' of felt, pulp and felt on a piece of hardboard, and squeeze it through the mangle. If you have no mangle, take each 'sandwich' of felt/pulp/felt and hang up to dry. The felt will drip a lot.
9. Peel the sheets of papers from the felts and leave to dry.
Note: The leftover pulp can be strained and composted.
Remember to record everything you do: the type and quantity of materials you use, and the steps you take. Note down the results. Also record any problems you have when making the paper.
What does your paper look like? Is it white, grey or another colour altogether? What makes your paper the colour it is? Is the paper crinkly or flat? What does the paper surface feel like - rough or smooth? How can you make the paper more smooth?
You may have to try several times before you get a paper that you are satisfied with. For example, sometimes it helps to boil the slurry for longer or to add more water to make the pulp fairly thin. The finer the pulp particles, and the thinner the layer, the better quality of paper.
Use the paper for painting or drawing with charcoal, pencil or ink. How is this paper different from other writing or drawing paper?
How are energy and natural resources conserved by making and using recycled paper instead of making and using new paper?
Sources of reference: Jon Vogler, Work from Waste: recycling wastes to create employment published by Intermediate Technology Publications Ltd. and Oxfam, 1981 (reprinted 1983), London; Let's Reduce and Recycle: Curriculum for Solid Waste Awareness: Lesson Plans for Grades K-6 and 7-12 published by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1980 (revised 1990), Washington, D.C. USA; Waste Away: Information and Activities for Investigating Trash Problems and Solutions for Upper Elementary and Junior High Students produced and published in 1989 by Vermont Institute of Natural Science, U.S.A.; Junior Projects No. 42 "Paper", published by Scholastic Publications Ltd. UK (1989).
OUTREACH pack 95 pp 9-10. Other Learning-By-Doing Leaflets and Information packs arc available from Dr. James Connor, OUTREACH Director, Environmental Education Center, 200 East Building, New York University. New York NY 10003, U.S.A. or Richard Lumbe, OUTREACH Coordinator, Information & Public Affairs, UNEP, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, KENYA