Paper and Cardboard Recycling: The Easy Guide

Cardboard and paper are both widely recycled, but there are some exceptions that can leave it looking like a bit of a minefield to someone who hasn’t read up on it. In this quick guide, we’ll explain to you which types of cardboard and paper are and aren’t recyclable, and even give you some tips on how to get more from your waste. This can save you money on general waste collections, and help you avoid any unwanted attention or fines.

What type of cardboard can be recycled?

A general rule of thumb is that clean or untreated cardboard is usually recyclable.

✅ All cardboard boxes, including outer packaging for food (like cereal, eggs or ready meals).

✅ Packing boxes, including cardboard envelopes and poster tubes (without the lid).

✅ Corrugated cardboard.

All cardboard with a wax layer.

Stained cardboard, like used pizza boxes.

What about paper?

✅ Packaging materials, like brown parcel paper and envelopes (including with plastic windows).

✅ Reading materials, including leaflets, magazines and newspapers.

✅ Photocopier paper and greeting cards (not ones decorated with glitter or foil).

Stained paper, like used paper towels or anything with paint on it.

Where can I recycle cardboard, and how does it happen?

When your waste is collected, the provider takes it to a recycling centre. First, it’s sorted and non-recyclable materials like string are removed from them. After that, cardboard and paper are separated and baled. Machines turn this to a pulp, clean it and use it to create new pulp with wood chips. This is then dried to create more cardboard.

How do I make the most of my cardboard and paper?

These are two of the most common materials that you’ll run into as a business owner, so having some knowledge on the best recycling practices is always going to help you out.

  • Cardboard and paper should be dry when you throw it away. This saves you money on collections (as it’ll weigh less), and means that the recycling centre workers can salvage more of it.
  • You can cut around stains if there’s a box that’s otherwise clean.
  • Removing plastic wrapping and staples from reading material helps make it easier for the recycling centre’s machines.
  • For the same reason, we’d recommend removing any excess tape or plastic lids from things.
  • As these materials are going to be turned to pulp anyway, we recommend cutting up large things like boxes to save some bin space. This also makes it easier for the recycling centre.
  • Segregated bins could make it easier for you to separate things like plastic and paper, as well as making it easier to recycle. If not, a regular dry mixed recycling bin works fine.
  • If you want to put your waste in the right hands, keeping you on top of it and giving you peace of mind, we’d recommend organising for a supplier to pick your recycling up.

If you would like a recycling bin, to organise collections, or even some further advice, you can get a free quote or contact us here:

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