Its really interesting to see the process of recycling of paper (as shown in picture below) but at the same time I was thinking like for how many times can one sheet of paper can be recycled ?

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Technically, once, since the paper gets shredded and redistributed among many pieces of paper. But more than 90% of the paper can complete each cycle. $\endgroup$
    – LDC3
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ Why do you think there is a limit to the number of times a sheet can be recycled? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ I doubt that there will be difference in quality which might make that paper quite not useful. I am not sure of that. $\endgroup$
    – Shashank
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


Well apart from the fact that the answer depends on the type of the paper that is used. Secondly how much is wasted and also the process used. Below is an article that might be helpful in answering the question

Some industry sources estimate that an ordinary sheet of paper made from cellulose fibers derived from wood can survive only four to six trips through the recycling process. The Environmental Protection Agency puts the figure at five to seven times.

It is not surprising that the rigors of remanufacturing take a toll on the fibers.

Ideally, paper for recycling is separated into types, because paper with long fibers, like white office paper, offers the most flexibility for recycling, while newsprint, with its shorter fibers, is usually reserved for making more newsprint and other low-quality papers.

The paper is shredded and chopped, then subjected to a mixture of chemicals and water and heated as it is repulped. It is centrifuged and screened to remove impurities; de-inked with more chemicals; then sprayed onto a wire screen, drained, dried and squeezed through heated rollers.

With each step, the fibers become shorter, coarser and stiffer, so that eventually, recycled fiber needs to be mixed with virgin fiber to make paper of the desired quality.

According to the American Forest and Paper Association, 63.4 percent of the paper consumed in the United States was recovered for recycling in 2009. C. CLAIBORNE RAY

SOURCES: New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/science/21qna.html?_r=0

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The fibre length keeps decreasing and the ink load keeps increasing. When no longer suitable for paper the pulp moves to the cardboard recycling stream and eventually leaves through some non-recycled avenue (landfill or burning). $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ "Energetic recycling" sounds a lot nicer. ;) Even for toilet paper, after the wastewater treatment plant. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 11:08

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