What is paper made of anyway?
Yes, that is the ol' recycle symbol you see. Polymers aren't the only material we use
everyday that can be recycled and reused. Metal is right up there with aluminum leading the
pack for value. Glass is recycled in many locales, and of course, paper, usually in the form
of cardboard boxes left over from store deliveries. It's hard to recycle plain old paper, but lots
of places do it, and it does help save some of those trees breathing oxygen in the air to keep
us alive and ticking. Unlike the recycle numbers for polymers, there aren't any for metal, glass or paper.
That's probably because you can figure out what it is just by looking at it.
But let's talk about the many common and not-so-common uses of paper.
Need: picture of cardboard, picture of ream of paper open
So let's think first about what paper is made of and from. Most of you know that the raw material for paper
is the old (and I do mean old) tree in its various forms. Much of the paper sold in the US is made from trees
harvested in the major tree growing regions, like the Deep South, the Far West and Canada. Turns out, like a lot
of things we buy today, most paper worldwide is made in China. That's only fair since that's where paper was first
manufactured in the form we know it today.But how do you actually make paper? Funny you should ask...
picture of tree harvesting, trucks with pulpwood on them, pulp and paper plant pictures inside and out
Need an experiment for how to make your own paper.
Need pictures of specialty papers used for water color painting and other neat stuff.
Polymer Science Learning Center