How to Recycle Paper

An Overview on Recycling Various Types of Mixed Paper

Perhaps you’ve never really thought about it, but there are likely dozens of different types of paper you use in your everyday life. And recycling mixed paper products is just as important as recycling newspaper, printer paper, and boxes. Here’s why recycling paper is important:

  • It saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • It protects forests by reducing the number of new trees cut down every year
  • It reduces water consumption and limits water pollution
  • It saves landfill space which is expensive to maintain and environmentally destructive

Defining mixed paper in your area

Called “mixed paper”, sometimes this term can be used to describe how your local community collects paper products - all mixed together in a single stream. It can, however, also be used to define a particular class of paper collected for recycling beyond the usual newspaper, computer paper, and cardboard recycled in your community. Mixed paper, in terms of recycling parlance, can include any of the following:

  • Cardboard
  • Catalogs
  • Colored paper
  • Craft paper
  • Envelopes, including those with windows
  • Juice boxes
  • Junk mail
  • Ledger paper
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Paper packaging
  • Pet food bags
  • Phone books
  • Printer paper
  • Retail price tags
  • Sticky notes
  • Tissue and paper towels
  • Waxed paper

It’s therefore important for you to find out if your local recycling program accepts mixed paper for recycling, and if so, how they define “mixed paper.”

How to recycle mixed paper

As with any other paper recycling, handling mixed paper properly will give it the best chance of being turned into new high-quality products. Follow these tips for guaranteed paper recycling:

  • Sort your mixed paper according to your local recycling standards and put each type in a separate container or bag.
  • If necessary, remove contaminants like plastic windows, staples, wax, stickers, and other materials (this is especially important when recycling magazines and catalogs).
  • Ensure that your paper is clean and dry- it should not have food waste, oil, or debris on it.

Once you’ve prepared your paper for recycling according to local standards, you can either put it with your curbside recycling, or take it down to the local recycling depot for processing, depending on the resources in your area.

And if you’ve got shredded paper that you need to recycle, see our article on recycling office paper for details on how to handle it.


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