Waste paper for recycling: Overview and identification of potentially critical substances

Kostyantyn Pivnenko, Eva Eriksson, Thomas Fruergaard Astrup

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Paper product manufacturing involves a variety of chemicals used either directly in paper and pulp production or in the conversion processes (i.e. printing, gluing) that follow. Due to economic and environmental initiatives, paper recycling rates continue to rise. In Europe, recycling has increased by nearly 20% within the last decade or so, reaching a level of almost 72% in 2012. With increasing recycling rates, lower quality paper fractions may be included. This may potentially lead to accumulation or un-intended spreading of chemical substances contained in paper, e.g. by introducing chemicals contained in waste paper into the recycling loop. This study provides an overview of chemicals potentially present in paper and applies a sequential hazard screening procedure based on the intrinsic hazard, physical-chemical and biodegradability characteristics of the substances. Based on the results, 51 substances were identified as potentially critical (selected mineral oils, phthalates, phenols, parabens, as well as other groups of chemicals) in relation to paper recycling. It is recommended that these substances receive more attention in waste paper.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Pages (from-to)134-142
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Hazardous substances
  • Paper
  • Priority pollutants
  • Recycling
  • Waste management
  • Biodegradation
  • Biohazards
  • Chemical hazards
  • Chemicals
  • Hazards
  • Indicators (chemical)
  • Waste paper
  • Chemical substance
  • Conversion process
  • Environmental initiatives
  • Paper and pulp production
  • Product manufacturing
  • Screening procedures


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