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What Types of Paper Are Recyclable? The 7 Main Types

paper recycling

Most types of paper are recyclable. Between catalogs, envelopes, magazines, egg cartons, and newspapers, all are recyclable forms of paper. However, many recycling centers don’t accept paper products with soiled or unusable fibers. These include toilet paper, greasy pizza boxes, and paper towels.

Recycling paper has tons of benefits for our society and the planet as a whole. It reduces waste, saves landfill space, and minimizes greenhouse gas emissions—all of which contribute to less air pollution.

But why is recycling important, and how can you recycle your paper products properly? Let’s find answers to these questions and learn what types of paper you can and cannot recycle.

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Is Paper Recycling Important?

Recycling paper has many benefits for our environment and society. Every year, thousands of trees are cut down for paper manufacturing. By recycling already-made paper, we can save millions of trees every year and reduce the impact on our planet.

Here are a few more reasons why paper recycling is important:

  • Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Manufacturing paper products by recycling paper emits less methane gas than creating an entirely new paper. As a result, fewer greenhouse gasses are released into the air, posing minimal environmental impact.
  • Conserves Natural Resources: Paper comes from trees. When you recycle paper, you reduce the number of trees cut to create new paper pulp. This also conserves many resources required in the process.
  • Lowers Energy Consumption: Recycling paper requires 50% less electricity and 90% less water than manufacturing a new paper entirely.
  • Saves Landfill Space: Recycling paper from the landfill can make more space for the stuff that can’t be recycled. Paper may not take much space, but it’s estimated that 1 ton of recycled paper can free up 3 cubic yards of landfill.

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The 7 Types of Paper You Can Recycle

Over the years, many state and local governments in the US have developed strict rules regarding paper recycling. The rules mainly revolve around certain materials present on the paper, such as bubble wrap, glitters, staple pins, etc.

You must check with your local authority to know the exact recycling laws. Generally, you can recycle the following seven types of paper across the country:

1. Cardboard

Image By: JustynaKoniecz, Pixabay

Cardboard is a common form of recyclable paper. There are two main types of cardboard (corrugated and paperboard), both of which can be easily recycled. In fact, cardboard boxes have a very high recycling rate of about 96.5%. With more than 70% of cardboard boxes being shipped commercially, that’s not a big surprise!

Most recycling centers and waste management facilities offer pick-up services for cardboard recycling. However, there are certain limitations. For example, some facilities don’t accept cardboard boxes with bubble wrap and Styrofoam.

A few centers also refuse to accept wet, greased, and waxy cardboard boxes. So, you must ask your local recycling facilities about the rules to decide what to do with your cardboard boxes.

2. Office Paper

stack of office papers
Image Credit: myrfa, Pixabay

Office paper is a general term used for different types of high-quality paper. These include writing, copying, printing, and computer paper. Papers used in these jobs contain longer fibers than standard ones.

Because office papers are high grade, they are brighter than newspaper and packaging paper. This means they can be reused and recycled multiple times. Many recycling centers also consider these types of paper the best for recycling.

3. Newspapers

stack of newspapers
Image Credit: Digital Buggu, Pexels

Recycling old newspapers is the best way to free up space in your home. Not only are newspapers manufactured from recycled paper, but they also serve as the raw material for making new items. Some of them include the following:

  • Cartons
  • Boxes
  • Tissues
  • Newspapers

4. Boxes With Fancy Coatings

90s cereal boxes
Image Credit: Samantha Gades, Unsplash

You may have different paper boxes in your home, such as paperboard, cereal boxes, etc. These boxes have a special fancy coating of a thin film. You might have to remove this film before sending it to your nearest recycling center. However, some facilities may accept these boxes as is.

5. Magazines

stack of magazines
Image Credit: Pixabay, Pexels

Previously, the glossy paper used in magazines was considered unsuitable for recycling. However, with technological advancement, these papers are now easily recycled and transformed into different paper products.

Recycled magazines provide the raw material to manufacture low-quality papers like paperboard, tissues, and newspapers. Again, your state’s recycling rules may differ for magazines, so check with your local authority.

6. Juice Cartons

woman buying fruit juice carton
Image Credit: wavebreakmedia, Shutterstock

Some juice cartons fall into the “boxes with fancy coating” category, but most are different from those paper products. Juice cartons are generally poly-coated and made of non-plastic materials.

The polyethylene coating makes up only 20% of the paper box. Advanced machinery can easily separate this coating and recycle the rest of the box to produce different paper products.

7. Phone Books

phonebook or yellow pages
Image Credit: jocic, Shutterstock

A few years ago, you couldn’t recycle your phone books. But with processors and shredders getting upgraded, it’s no longer impossible. Many recycling facilities now accept phone books and process them to produce new paper products.

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How Can You Recycle Paper Properly?

Paper is a highly acceptable form of recycling material for recycling facilities. However, they don’t accept all types of paper. If you can easily tear a paper, it will qualify for recycling. To recycle your paper correctly, you must ensure a few things, including:

  • The paper shouldn’t be contaminated with grease, wax, or moisture. Always keep your recycling bin clean to protect the paper from these contaminations.
  • The paper should be spotless and dry.
  • The paper shouldn’t be crumpled or shredded. Of course, the paper will be shredded during the recycling process, but it happens at a particular stage—not right after its collection.
  • The paper shouldn’t contain any other material, such as bubble wrap. Remove any such thing before contacting the recycling facility.
  • Some states may require you to flatten the box and tie them up for easy pick-up. That especially applies if you have lots of paper to dispose of.

It’s always better to contact your local waste management authority to ensure whether your paper qualifies for recycling. Doing so will also save you time and energy.

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Recycling is an excellent way to preserve nature and treat our environment well. For instance, you can save significant landfill space and reduce air pollution just by recycling a single piece of paper.

The good news is that all types of paper are recyclable. Whether you have piles of magazines, juice cartons, cardboard, or newspapers, you can quickly dispose of them at your local recycling center.

However, ensure that the paper isn’t crumbled, shredded, greasy, or wet. That’s because many recycling companies don’t accept such papers and consider them contaminated. Nevertheless, paper is generally a highly recyclable material!

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Featured Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay


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