Many different types of paper can be recycled. Some paper is more complicated to recycle because it blends several elements. For example, envelopes with plastic windows may not be recyclable. Paper with plastic coatings also may prove a challenge. Your normal, ordinary household paper can be recycled, but you should always check with your local recycling company about exclusions.
The following types of paper can be recycled with ease:
- Construction paper
- Magazines (remove staples)
- Circular advertisements in magazines
- Computer paper
- Copy paper
Other types of paper can be recycled with a little work. For instance, if you have envelopes with plastic windows, you can cut the windows out, and then recycle the envelopes. Be wary of junk mail, especially if you shred it. Much of its paper is recyclable, but you may need to pull out things like blank plastic cards or plastic coated paper.
It gets easier to figure out which paper can be recycled by using recycle-friendly paper as much as possible. Instead of buying “virgin” paper, made of plant products, look for paper that has already been recycled. Also, when buying paper cups, you can look for those with no plastic coating so they can be recycled.
Paper made from products like corn can be recycled as well. This is a relatively new form of paper that resembles foam. Instead of the non-recyclable foam products, you can generally toss corn-based containers straight into your paper-recycling bin. Chinese food containers also can be recycled as long as you remove their metal holders.
If you can’t recycle a certain type of paper, consider reusing it. Photographic paper used in printers can be used to print more than one picture. Also, schools often look for extra paper supplies for art projects. You should let the school know whether the paper can be recycled, since leftovers typically end up in paper recycle bins.
You can encourage greater use of paper that can be recycled by attempting to purchase only recycled or recyclable items, and by writing to businesses you frequent that don’t use recyclable paper. By recycling paper, large industrial companies can help minimize the use of new paper and create less debt to the environment.
Some companies respond well to consumer requests to use recyclable paper. This has been the case with many food companies, many of which now feature cups made of recyclable paper. Given the huge numbers of people who frequent such restaurants on a daily basis, a company’s choice to use recyclable paper can prove popular and responsible.