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Paper Recycling and Types of Paper to Recycle

Last updated on April 4th, 2018

Importance of Paper Recycling

Paper recycling is of great importance because of its abundance in waste generation

Paper is the second most common type of municipal waste following organic waste. For this reason, paper recycling is of great importance because:

  1. It protects the environment and saves valuable resources

Every ton of paper ending up to recycling saves:

  • 17 trees;
  • 7,000 gallons of water;
  • 463 gallons of oil.

In addition, paper recycling prevents air pollution and electricity consumption. In total, it can reduce pollution by 95% when producing new sheets.

  1. It saves valuable landfill space.

A ton of paper occupies 3.3 cubic yards when disposed in a landfill. Only in 2014 paper recovery saved approx. 15.5 million cubic yards of landfill space in the US.

  1. It can create revenue or save money.

In several countries of the developing world , people collect and sell paper to make a living (i.e. catadores in Brazil, cartoneros in Argentina, etc.).

Additionally, paper recycling can save money in areas that “Pay As You Throw” schemes are in place.

What type of paper can I recycle?

Nowadays, it has become possible to recycle most types of paper, if not all. Significant limitations used to appear a few years ago because of substances or material found on the sorted paper (i.e. staples or paper clips, glow in books and especially phone books, etc.).

However technology got ahead and recyclable paper includes:


The most easily recycled material. Paper recycling chain has included cardboard from its very beginning. Therefore,  the very high recycling rate achieved (approx. 70% of cardboard-boxes shipped commercially) is not a surprise.

Boxes are the most common manufactured product made by recycled cardboard.

Office paper

In most cases this type of paper consists of high quality paper; thus it can be recycled even for its original use.


Recycled paper provides the necessary raw material to produce newspapers. Despite that fact, it possible to further recycle newspapers. By returning back to the supply chain, they provide raw material for:

  • cartons;
  • boxes;
  • tissues; and of course
  • newspapers.

Paper with coating

This category includes several types of paper such as cereal boxes, paperboard, etc.

In that type of paper, the application of a thin film is responsible for making paper looks fancy. Despite that, paper with coating is recycled to produce among others, newspapers, magazines, cartons, etc.


A few years ago glossy appearance of magazines used to be a problem for paper recycling. This has changed and magazines form an excellent material for lower quality papers such as newspapers, paperboard and tissues.

Paper Cardboard dairy and Juice Cartons

This category is similar to the “paper with coating”. However, in this case the products are poly-coated. Non-plastic milk and juice cartons are the main materials included in this category.

The polyethylene is the material used for coating. It represents only 20%. Technological evolution has made its separation from paper quite easy. In that way the rest 80% of high quality fibers are easily available for recovery.

Phone Books

In spite of being sometimes difficult to handle, more and more processors accept phone books for recycling.

In old days, the glue keeping pages together was an important issue. For once more, technological evolution overpassed this obstacle, making phone books acceptable by the paper recycling chain.

However, to be sure, you need to contact first  the local recycling company for further information.

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