What is paper made of?

Around the world, people have made paper from a wide variety of plant materials, such as wood pulp, rice, water plants, bamboo, cotton, and linen clothing. The ancient Egyptians made paper from papyrus reeds that grew abundantly along the Nile River. Today’s paper fiber comes mainly from two sources: pulpwood logs and recycled paper products. In fact, much of the paper today is a blend of new and recycled fiber. To make paper commercially, companies mash up these wood fibers and mix them with water. This mixture is mashed into a thin sheet. The sheet is dried and pressed flat into large rolls, cut into different sizes, and converted into paper products. Recycling paper and paper products helps save trees and support the paper-making process. According to the American Forest and Paper Association more than half—53.4 percent—of the paper used in the United States was recovered for recycling in 2006.

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