A brief description of how we transform waste paper into high-quality recycled paper used to make paper-based packaging
The process starts with the arrival of waste paper and cardboard at a papermaking plant. Sorting machines eliminate contaminants such as plastic, stones, glass and staples. A gigantic mixer then mashes up the waste paper and cardboard with warm water.
The resulting paper pulp is poured onto a moving sieve. The sieve vibrates and distributes the pulp uniformly over a paper machine. First with gravity and then with suction, water is removed from the pulp until it reaches a dry matter content of around 20-25%.
The water that is still present in the paper needs to be squeezed out. To do this, the paper sheet is drawn into pressing rollers. Pressing results in paper with a dry matter content of around 50%.
The paper is dried by means of evaporation with steam cylinders. It’s then treated with a starch paste to give it strength, and dried again. The paper is wound onto mother reels, each of which can carry 20 to 30 tonnes of paper.
The paper is unwound from the mother reel and cut to size. Conveyor belts transport the reels of cut paper to a warehouse. From here the reels are sent to companies who convert the paper into all kinds of packaging.
Our papermaking plants are located in Oudegem, Belgium, and Strasbourg, France. Together they turn out around 900,000 tonnes of high-quality paper, which is the raw material for corrugated cardboard, solid board and cores. Our Blue Paper plant in Strasbourg, the result of a successful conversion, is co-owned with Klingele.
Paper-based packaging is a perfect fit for the Circular Economy. It’s 100% recyclable, bio-based and biodegradable. In fact, corrugated packaging is one of the most recycled paper products in the world, with a mature market for secondary raw materials. Recycled paper and cardboard provide 88% of the raw material for new corrugated boxes, while efficient recycling processes allow fibres to be reused for new packaging.
Quality is a strong focus at VPK. Our paper production plants have obtained the quality certificates ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 50001. The Belgian plant has also received the Cradle2Cradle Material Health Certificate, while our French site has obtained OHSAS 18001. All these certificates recognise our continuing commitment to implement quality processes and produce top quality paper at the same time as helping to make our activities sustainable.