To the editors:

David Moberg’s article on recycling in Chicago [September 20] appears to be right about poor collection methods proposed by Streets & San. He has made a common error about reusing waste paper.

There is great stress laid on recycling various types of paper. Recycling generally means collecting and segregating various grades of paper, the object being to make “new” paper.

Paper is not the same as glass, metal, or plastic: it cannot be melted and cast over and over again. To make recycled paper, a huge investment in machinery must be made ($40 million or more), large volumes of water used (inevitably tainted with dangerous chemicals), and the outfall (unrecyclable wastes containing ink, heavy metals, dioxins, et al.) landfilled.

Each time waste paper is reclaimed, its fibers become shorter, less useful. The end product eventually becomes tissue, egg cartons, dunnage–products which must be landfilled. Cycles of virgin fiber are saved but the real cost may be out of proportion to the savings.

Better uses for waste paper (more than newsprint, which is about one-third of the waste paper stream) should take the paper fiber out of the cycle for generations, not months.

One use is cellulose insulation: waste paper is ground to fiber size, made fire resistant, and blown into walls and ceilings to replace fiberglass (recently declared a carcinogen like asbestos by the U.S. government).

We have been attempting to begin commercial production of a replacement for particle board which can use virtually any grade of paper, does not require liquid pulping, and has no outfall to be landfilled.

It is a simple process which requires modifying existing particle board or plywood mills. We estimate that such a mill might reuse a pile of waste paper the size of Soldier Field, transmuting garbage into lower-cost building materials which should lower the cost of construction in the area.

We have discovered in the last two years that government agencies are of no help and venture capitalists have no interest in funding a demonstration project even though we have potential customers who want to sell or use this new product.

Are there any capitalists out there who want to make substantial profits while providing socially responsible products?

Phillip Gelman

SHO-PRO Services, Inc.