What Paper Waste is Recyclable, What’s Not?

What kinds of paper are recyclable, and what must be kept separate for disposal processes?

Paper waste is still a problem today, even with curbside and other pick-up services. According to the EPA, in 2017,  there was 267.8 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced – of this, 25 percent was made up of paper waste.

If you’re thinking about signing up for professional paper shredding services, you might also be wondering what exactly you can include in that batch of items to be shredded. While we deal mostly with clients looking to protect their data’s privacy, we cannot deny the extreme importance that recycling plays for the greater ecosystem.

With paper recycling, the items are turned into a new product instead of making it to a landfill. This conserves energy and natural resources. The EPA notes that saving just one ton of office paper from the trash can be equivalent to saving 322 gallons of gasoline.

Here are some key things to keep in mind regarding what kinds of paper are recyclable and what must be kept separate for disposal.

What Kind of Paper Is it?

When considering the type of paper, this refers mostly to the coating or material from which the paper is made. As a basic rule of thumb, anything treated, such as laminated paper or magazine and paper cups with coating, or anything tainted with food waste is not recyclable.

On the other hand, office and computer paper, wrapping paper, and phone books are Ok to recycle.

This can be further examined by breaking down the types of paper being recycled into dedicated categories called “paper grades.”

The most basic paper that is trashed falls into the “mixed paper” category. This can be anything from invoices and mail to catalogs and telephone books. Mills process the matter together and then send off for recycling.

Where Does Shredded Paper Go for Recycling?

Shredded paper falls into the mixed paper category. When a professional shredding and waste hauling company handles the material they can verify it does not contain other matter like plastics and shred it to the appropriate size. Once the process is complete, the material can be recycled.

Other categories, such as old newspapers, high-grade papers with ink, corrugated cardboard, and pulp, must be processed separately. The first step to de-ink, separate, and other processes is required before recycling can occur.

Legal Shred takes green practices seriously. We strive to ensure that all the protected waste and matter we haul away is not only handed in the safest manner and following all compliance guidelines, but we also seek to find the most eco-friendly manner for disposing of the waste once it renders unrecognizable.


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