Can You Recycle This? What to Do with Paper, Cardboard & More

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What You Need to Know

Did you know that paper and paper-based packaging are among the most recycled materials in the United States? And you can feel good knowing that by recycling you are reusing resources that keeps the planet healthier.

Your help is crucial, so we’re making it even easier for you to identify exactly what to recycle in your everyday life.

Did you know that pizza boxes and coffee cups are being accepted at more and more recycling facilities? Check your local recycling rules, as every area has different guidelines, by inputting your ZIP code at BeRecycled.org.

#HowDoIRecycle: E-Commerce Boxes

If you break it down and take it to the recycling bin, the box that container your latest e-commerce purchase can be part of future unboxing moments with other shoppers.

What paper can be recycled:

  • White and colored paper—think writing paper, printer paper, file folders, stationery
  • Mail and envelopes (yes, even those with windows), greeting cards—if you still get coupons, toss those in too
  • Most of the boxes that pile up when you buy cereal, shoes, laundry detergent, medicine, cakes, candy—you get the picture
  • Takeout and frozen food containers, including ice cream and egg cartons as long as they’re empty and clean
  • Pizza boxes—remove all food and recycle (even with a little grease and cheese)
  • Shipping boxes—empty them, break them down so they’re flat, and keep them dry
  • Paper bags
  • Magazines and newsprint—no need to remove staples or worry about special inks or glossy papers; today’s recycling machinery can handle them
  • Beverage cups and drink boxes—rinse the cups thoroughly before tossing them into the bin
  • Juice and milk cartons—make sure to remove all liquids first
  • Wrapping paper, including the cardboard tube

 

Read More: 3 Reasons to Feel Good About Paper

Bonus tips:

1) Why should you recycle paper products? The natural cellulose fibers that make paper products can generally be used to make new products up to seven times (especially when combined with some fresh fiber).

2) Recycling isn’t the only option. Paper packaging’s durability means that it can be reused. Flatten boxes for easy storage, and come gift-wrapping time you’re all set.

Check your local recycling rules by ZIP code at BeRecycled.org

You might not know that pizza boxes and coffee cups are being accepted at more and more facilities. See if you can here.

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3) Quality matters. Don’t forget to flatten boxes. Make sure the item is clean and dry. Crumpled paper goes into the recycling bin. But that magazine you dropped in the bathtub? Sorry—wet paper goes in the garbage. (Try making seed paper with it instead.)

4) Books are a special case. Some curbside recycling programs accept paperback and hardcover books as is, others require you to remove spines and covers because of the adhesive in the binding, and some ask you to go to a separate facility. Here, too, recycling isn’t the only option: Many libraries, charities and thrift shops accept donations of used books.