Recycling Program Dries Up Towel Waste

Georgia Pacific

A lot less material is going to local landfills thanks to the efforts of the people who work at GP Center. Since August 2017, about 5 tons of paper towels have been diverted from the building’s waste stream to be recycled into new products such as containerboard and other paper products.

The idea for this recovery program was driven by GP PRO customers who supply office buildings, universities, sports arenas and other facilities wanting to help meet waste reduction goals. It turns out that up to 25 percent of a commercial building’s waste stream is paper towels.

But recycling paper towels can be a challenge. The essential ingredient that makes a paper towel strong when it’s wet (known as wet strength resin) also makes it hard to recycle. Most recyclers won’t take them because most recycling mills aren’t set up to remove the wet strength resin from the towels to make the recovered fiber suitable for use in new products.

To solve that problem, the GP PRO team modified the recipe for wet strength resin to create a new enMotion® towel that can be conveniently recycled along with other types of recovered paper. And the new formulation doesn’t compromise hand drying performance. GP is currently the only company marketing this type of “easy to recycle” towel.

The GP Center experiment has provided important knowledge for the GP PRO team. “We owe a big &lquo;thank you&rquo; to GP Center employees,” says Michael Barnett, GP PRO category innovation leader. “By supporting and participating in this pilot program, we get to demonstrate to our customers and others that the program is easy to implement and reduces waste to landfills.”