Eva Ortega of Elmwood Park talks about the Marcal plant fire. Jan. 31, 2019.
Kaitlyn Kanzler, Staff Writer, @KaitlynKanzler8
It was extremely sad to see the photos of the destroyed Marcal Paper Mill and to read the stories about the hundreds of dedicated employees who are now out of work as a result of the devastating fire.
But the one part of the story that seemed to be missing from The Record and NorthJersey.com’s coverage was the fact that Marcal was not just a paper mill. It was a “recycled paper,” paper mill: “Paper from Paper, Not from Trees,” as the company’s long-time marketing slogan read. Even more important than the loss of the iconic sign that could be seen from Interstate 80 is the loss of an important recycling market for communities throughout the Northeast. “Marcal Mix,” as it was known, helped many communities initiate recycling programs for the first time.
I got to know Peter Marcalus and other members of the Marcalus family back in the 90s when I was responsible for finding recycling markets for old Verizon (at the time NYNEX) telephone directories. Marcal was one of the early markets that we found for old phone books.
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I spent a lot of time at the Elmwood Park mill in meetings with Peter and learning about the company’s manufacturing process. While Marcal could take phone books on a limited basis, the yellow paper had to be metered in at a very low percentage so that it wouldn’t have a negative impact on the brightness levels of the recycled pulp. But the fact that Marcal was able to take phone books at all was instrumental in enabling us to convince other paper product manufacturers that old phone books could be successfully added to their recycled paper mix.
Hopefully, Marcal’s other manufacturing facilities will continue to serve as an important outlet for recycled paper collections.
And what would be really great is if the current owners decide to rebuild the Elmwood Park facility.
John Halenar, Ridgewood
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