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Because You Asked

Do I Need to Remove the Address Window from Envelopes?

By Recyclebank |

You don’t have to remove the clear envelope window, but it doesn’t hurt to do so. 

Dear Recyclebank,

I was wondering, is it okay to put envelopes in the recycling bin that have the clear velum over the address window? Or should I be tearing them out?

-Leslie H., Indianapolis, IN

Dear Leslie,

You don’t have to tear that clear plastic window out to recycle the envelope, but it doesn’t hurt to remove it first, either. Most paper recycling facilities can handle incidental bits and bobs like the envelope windows and staples (however, it is always best to check with your waste hauler to verify, since processing capabilities vary from place to place). During the recycling process, paper is broken down into a pulp and the items that don’t belong are filtered out. The materials filtered out of the pulp are discarded, so whether you remove the window from the envelope yourself or let the facility do it for you, that little piece of plastic (often polystyrene film) is probably ending up in a landfill. You can minimize this waste byproduct by taking steps to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive and by choosing envelopes with no windows for your own mailings.

NYC Recycles

Does this have you wondering if you’re taking any unnecessary precautions when recycling? Ask in the comments below and we might answer it in a future post! 

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  • Clara D. 2 years ago
    Could the city of phoenix start buying envelopes without the plastic sheet in the window? We have to live by example. ;)
  • Jemie C. 3 years ago
    I've noticed a lot of places are sending envelopes with no plastic on the window. The window is still there over the address section, but the plastic is no longer there. I've also noticed a trend for companies that send return envelopes for customer use simple stamp the address on the outside of a regular envelope. Hopefully, more companies that sent mailers and return address envelopes will do this. :)
  • Marilyn N. 3 years ago
    ok i didnt know that the plastic on envelopes are recyclable wow i just learned something new i am big on recycling will post ty
    • Laura L. 2 years ago
      They are not recyclable. It says in the article they end up getting filtered out and end up in a landfill.
  • Judy L. 5 years ago
    Where can I recycle tennis shoes?
  • leslie t. 5 years ago
    can you recycle confetti?
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