Paper manufacturing efficient design and resource use

Paper and cardboard manufacturing waste reduction


The cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to deal with your waste is to reduce the amount that you produce. You should also look for opportunities to reuse and recycle materials.

By reducing, reusing and recycling your waste you can:

  • save money on your waste bills
  • reduce costs of managing and handling your waste
  • improve your environmental performance
  • improve your reputation with staff, customers and the public

Your waste responsibilities in paper manufacturing

If your business produces or handles waste, certain waste responsibilities apply to you, even if you recycle materials such as:

  • wood chips
  • paper sludge
  • broke (paper formed on the machine that is unusable)
  • paper trim

If you store waste on your site you must make sure that it is stored safely and legally - see waste responsibilities for paper and cardboard producers.

If you carry out certain waste recycling, reuse and recovery activities, you may need a permit, licence or waste exemption from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) - see waste permits, licences, exemptions and pre-notification for paper and cardboard producers.

Plan your process

Select your raw materials carefully to reduce your environmental impact and cut your costs - see raw material use in paper and cardboard production.

Review the web widths you stock regularly to ensure that they are the most appropriate for the range of cut sizes required. This will reduce trim waste.

In the collation process, each reel change causes waste, so you should run the largest reels possible to minimise changeover. Standardise your reel lengths so that all reels are changed together. This helps to minimise stoppage times and waste.

The risk of breaking the web may lead to unnecessary caution in running reel cores out. Introduce better speed control and get your operators to record core waste.

Plan coating mix quantities carefully and monitor print quality during the run.

Help your customers to specify the correct thickness of paper or articles.

If you set your sheet counters to count a few extra sheets for safety, check your counters are working properly.

To recover and recycle waste in your process, you could:

  • recover and reuse filler
  • collect and reuse or recycle any broke
  • recover and recycle excess coating material
  • recycle wastes such as baling wires
  • recycle process water to recover lost fibres - this will recover product, reduce materials additions and decrease waste
  • recycle small quantities of unseparated solids for further pulping
  • if possible, recover fibre from sludge and reuse it in your processes

Monitor and manage your waste

  • Evaluate the amount of waste you produce. This will help you to identify where you can make savings.
  • Train staff in good waste management and encourage them to contribute ideas.
  • Carry out regular quality checks. This will enable you to reduce the amount of off-specification material you produce.
  • Set challenging targets to reduce your waste, eg by 10 per cent in a year. This will help motivate you and your staff to make these savings.
  • Label rubbish containers clearly with the type of waste that can be put in each one. This will make it easier for your staff to put your plans into action.
  • Keep each waste type separate and bale it if possible. This will reduce the amount of waste treatment required and could lower your transport and waste management charges.

Consider repairing or upgrading existing equipment instead of replacing it - see reduce your business waste to save money.