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Because You Asked

Are Paper Clips Recyclable?

By Recyclebank |

You should handle one or two paper clips differently from bucket-loads of paper clips, but either way, they’re recyclable.

Updated on 12/02/2015.

Dear Recyclebank: We literally have buckets of metal paper clips that have accumulated over the years where I work. My theory is that they should be able to be recycled, but we don’t know. Do you? –Cindy G.


Dear Cindy: Most paper clips are made of steel wire, and can therefore be considered a metal, and are technically recyclable, though not really in your curbside bin.


Paper clips that are left attached to paper don’t interfere with the paper recycling process, but they probably won’t get recycled themselves because they are too small to get sorted along with most metal. Paper clips can definitely be recycled in bulk as scrap metal. Dropping them off at a local scrap-metal yard or an automotive junk yard is a valid option if you have buckets of paper clips.


However, one of the best things about paper clips is that they are reusable. So besides recycling them, do consider reusing them. Here are a few suggestions:


  1. Donate in bulk to local schools.
  2. Distribute at work; if left in a public area, it will encourage people to take from there vs. buying new ones.
  3. Checkout Pinterest or other sites for creative project ideas using paper clips. This blog piece has 10 inspiring ideas.


The Washington Post
The Zero Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less


What do you do with your extra paper clips? Share any ideas you have in the comments below!

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  • Barbara C. 4 years ago
    We always re-use them at my office. Whenever we close out a file and put it in storage, I take out the paperclips and binderclips, and put them back in the box in the supply cabinet. Good for the environment, and a good way to cut back on business expenses!
  • wayne w. 4 years ago
    I always have plenty of paper clips. Only discard if somehow they have rust. Keep some in my desk at home and in office and my car.
  • tommy b. 4 years ago
  • Meg P. 4 years ago
    I had a job once that included drops and pickups from banks. They collected paperclips and were happy to give them to me for my boss to use over. Eventually, they went back to the bank on paperwork, and then back to us again. Worked very well and a model for recycling over and over
  • Ingrid R. 4 years ago
    Blog link on article does not work.
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