When you open up the mailbox, it is probably stuffed with unwanted catalogs, magazine subscriptions, and maybe even old newspapers.
Many people take these unsolicited items and toss them straight into the garbage can, but is that the best option for them? Recycling could be a possibility that is better for the environment.
Can you recycle magazines, catalogs, and newspapers?
All magazines, catalogs, and newspapers can be easily recycled by placing them directly into your blue recycling bin. There is no need to remove the staples or binding as these small impurities will be sorted out at the recycling facility during the pulping process.
Can Magazines and Catalogs Be Recycled?
There is good news for those who are worried about how their junk mail affects the world around them.
Recycling your magazines and catalogs has never been easier, even if they contain glossy paper. There are just a few simple steps that you need to follow to ensure that you are properly recycling your magazines and catalogs, as well as your newspapers.
First, many of these magazines and catalogs come in a plastic wrapper to keep everything inside. They have a lot of pieces that can fall out, such as perfume samples.
The wrapper itself is not recyclable, so you need to remove this outer shell to get to the inside contents.
Next, you may want to black out the material that contains your personal information, though this is not a necessity. Some people simply feel better for protecting themselves and their names and addresses.
Can They be Put in the Blue Recycling Bin?
You can toss the entire magazine or catalog directly into your blue recycling bin.
There is no need for you to remove any of the binding, staples, perfume samples, cardstock inserts, or any of the other items that might have been included in your magazine.
These items are typically sorted out at the paper recycling facility or during the pulping process, if necessary.
Sometimes, you might receive magazines that are printed on newsprint, or you may have leftover newspapers at the end of the week.
The good news is that these items can also be recycled just as easily.
Whether the paper is glossy or has the matte finish of newsprint, both can be tossed directly into your blue recycling bin.
Can I Recycle Magazines With Staples?
Yes, magazines with staples can easily be recycled without the need for you to remove the staples.
The recycling facility is more than equipped to screen the paper during the pulping process to remove impurities such as these tiny bits of metal.
If you are curious about how the process works, here is the rundown on what happens inside of the recycling facility.
First, your sorted papers arrive at the mill to be mixed with a combination of water and chemicals to create a type of pulp. This pulp is subjected to many different types of purification steps to get rid of items that do not belong.
The first step involves a long chain known as a “ragger” that can remove items like string, twine, or wire wrap.
The second purification step involves a metal screen at the bottom of the pulper, where larger items such as plastic window screens can be removed from the slush.
Last but not least, the pulp is spun around inside of a hydrocyclone to get rid of items like stone and pieces of metal, including staples.
It is filtered through one more fine mesh screen to ensure that all impurities are gone before it can be made into a new paper product.
What About Magazines With Glossy Paper?
Magazines with glossy paper can typically be recycled.
This same sentiment holds for most glossy surfaces that you come across, including brochures, flyers, and other types of junk mail. If you aren’t sure whether or not your items can be recycled, there are a few key tests you can put them through.
Some glossy paper such as business cards is coated with polymers to make them stand out from the rest. These types of finishes are typically not recyclable.
You can test your glossy paper to see if it can be recycled by trying to rip it. If it tears easily, then go ahead and put it in your blue recycling bin. If it does not tear easily, then it belongs in the regular trash can.
Another test applies to glossy paper with a metallic finish. Try to crumple it up in your hand. If it holds on to its ball-like shape, then it should be able to be recycled.
On the other hand, if it cannot hold onto the crumpled texture, you probably should keep it out of your recycling bin.
Does the Ink on Magazines Affect the Recycling Process?
During the recycling process, some steps can be taken so that the ink on magazines does not affect the result.
Even though your magazines are pretty heavily inked, it can still be used to create high-quality white office paper when the proper steps are taken.
After the pulp is made and strained through the final mesh screen, the paper goes through a rigorous deinking process.
The most common process used is known as flotation deinking.
It relies on air bubbles and detergents to help carry the ink and other assorted contaminants up to the surface of the pulp and water mixture.
From here, the color can then be removed.
If flotation deinking is not sufficient, the pulp can be washed to help remove fillers and other contaminants from the mixture. Alternatively, they may have to bleach a batch if more vibrant paper fibers are needed.
This may be the case when creating a plain white office paper.
Can Newspapers Be Recycled?
Newspapers can indeed be recycled, though their potential future uses are relatively limited.
The type of paper that newspaper is made from has already been recycled. In reality, it has likely been recycled multiple times, which causes the paper fibers to become shorter each time.
When you recycle a newspaper, you are paving the way for more newspaper or tissue products to be formed.
The reality is that paper can only be recycled so many times. Most experts point to the idea that paper can be recycled five to seven times throughout its lifespan.
Each time, the fibers become shorter until they are too short to create anything.
A newspaper is a lower grade paper that can be used to create more newspapers, tissue, and other types of products.
Can I Get Money From Recycling a lot of Magazines?
Most recycling centers are not going to be interested in purchasing a lot of old magazines from you.
They tend to buy their mixed paper lots by the ton, which simply is not feasible for the average individual.
Instead, most people may have just a carton or two of old magazines around their house that they are looking to get rid of.
Unlike aluminum cans and glass bottles that offer a return for recycling them, paper products do not have this same luxury. If, for some reason, you do come into a rather large stash of old magazines, you can expect to receive a pretty small sum of money for them.
Many companies pay just pennies per pound and require hundreds of pounds to make a transaction with you.
What Kind of Paper CANNOT be Recycled?
While many types of paper can be placed in your blue recycling bin, there are plenty of types of paper that simply belong in the trash.
If you aren’t sure whether your items can be recycled, check to see if they are on this list:
Napkins cannot be recycled because they are typically coated in food scraps or grease.
This can contaminate the pulp and should not be placed in the curbside recycling bin.
2. Toilet Paper
The paper itself cannot be recycled, no matter what it was used for.
However, you can recycle the cardboard roll.
3. Waxed Paper
The coating of the paper makes wax paper unfit for future recycling.
4. Paper Towels
While these can be great for cleaning up kitchen messes, paper towels belong in the garbage can for this very reason.
The paper fibers in tissues are too short to make new paper products.
How Many Times Can Paper Generally be Recycled?
There is a limit on just how often paper can be recycled.
The rule of thumb is that most paper products can be recycled between five and seven times.
Each time they are recycled, the paper fibers grow shorter and shorter, limiting what can be made from them. Newspaper and tissue are typically made from short fibers that have already been recycled several times.
Eventually, your paper fibers will reach a point where nothing new can be made from them.
This is when paper reaches the end of its lifespan.
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.