Pulp Truth: Can I Recycle This?

Paper products that can be recycled

Did you know that paper and paper-based packaging are one of the most recycled materials in the United States?! We want to keep it that way by making it even easier to identify exactly what to recycle in your everyday life. You might not know that pizza boxes and coffee cups are being increasingly accepted at more and more facilities. Check your local recycling rules, as every area has different guidelines. Find yours by inputting your ZIP code at BeRecycled.org.

Print the list of what paper products can be recycled and post it above your recycling bin!
Print the recycling list here

What goes into the bin:

  • White and colored paper—think writing paper, file folders, stationery
  • Mail and envelopes (yes, even those with windows), greeting cards—if you still get coupons, toss ’em in too
  • Most of those 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 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
  • Juice and milk cartons—make sure to remove all liquids first
  • Wrapping paper, including the cardboard tube

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 up.

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 others ask you to go to a separate facility.