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Because You Asked

Is Glossy Paper Recyclable? 5

By Recyclebank |

There’s often confusion around where to put glossy paper, but there doesn’t have to be. Read on.

Dear Recyclebank: Can you recycle glossy paper? –Morgan L.

Dear Morgan L: Great question. Glossy paper, such as that found in magazines, fliers, junk mail, brochures, business cards, etc., is recyclable curbside.

Glossy paper gets it shiny surface from additives, such as minerals or resins that fill in the gaps in the fibers of the paper to create a smooth, shiny surface. Magazines, brochures, fliers and junk mail all fall into this category, and all belong in the recycle bin.

Most business cards also belong in the bin, with some exceptions. Some business cards have extra coatings made of polymers to make them more durable and impressive. While this coating creates that fancy look and adds a layer of professionalism, it also may make them unrecyclable. If you have those kinds of cards on your hands, test them to see if they will rip easily. If not, they probably aren’t recyclable.

Another one to watch out for it giftwrap. While many paper products can be recovered up to seven times before their fiber strength is lost, paper with a metallic coating, such as certain giftwraps, cannot be recycled.

Here’s an easy test for metallic-looking paper: Crumple it in your hand. If it remains crumpled, you can recycle it. If it doesn’t easily crumple, keep it out of the recycle.

If possible, try to steer clear of metallic paper to begin with, and purchase products that are responsibly sourced by looking for the Forest Steward Council seal.

Shopping green when you can, and participating in community recycling programs, are two positive things you can do to take an active role in creating a zero-waste economy.

If you’re the creative type, you could try some of these at-home glossy paper craft ideas:

1. Convert your old magazines into gift-wrap.

2. Create a collage.

4. Reuse unwanted business cards by turning them into bookmarks or into other creative, fun things.

So remember, normal glossy paper goes in the recycle bin. But before you put it there, why not repurpose it and have some fun with it by making something new and uniquely yours with it?

SOURCES: AFPA, Domtar, WM

Have you done DIY projects with magazines or business cards? Share your tips in the comments!

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  • Martha G. 27 days ago
    My daughter taught me to use old business cards for grocery lists.
  • Gerald B. 1 month ago
    Our recycling company's instructions do not identify ANY paper as unacceptable.
  • Deborah W. 2 months ago
    Something new - never knew about. Don't find too much glossy paper or business cards. Thanks.
  • erica m. 2 months ago
    Business cards make great labels for storage containers. I just st flip them over and use a sharpie on the back, then tape to the box.
  • David S. 2 months ago
    I'm pretty sure that this question won't be answered by the Recyclebank staff, but I'm going to post it anyway.
    It's been said many times here that paper can only be recycled up to seven times, but how do you know if any of what you're putting in the recycling bin has reached its recycling life?
    • Sandy W. 2 months ago
      I have wondered the same thing, David S., and also the same with recycling glass
    • joanna l. 2 months ago
      I think that recycling companies must have some mechanism for filtering out fibers that are unacceptable for recycled paper, I don't think that is is the consumers job to worry about it.
    • BenD@Recyclebank 2 months ago

      David, 

      It's not important to know how many rounds of recycling a particular paper product has been through. What's important is knowing which types of paper can be put into the recycle, and which must stay out of the recycle. For instance, paper towels are often made from paper that's been recycled before, and once they're made into paper towels those fibers are at the quality level that is no longer desireable for recycling again.

    • BenD@Recyclebank 2 months ago

      Joanna,

      Contamination of quality paper recycle by unrecyclable paper is a big problem in the recycling process, and is actually quite difficult to sort out. Unrecyclable paper lowers the overall quality of recycled-paper bales, making them harder to sell, which can cause them to end up in the landfill, so it is very important for consumers to ensure our curbside recycling is done properly.

    • David S. 2 months ago
      Thanks for the reply Sandy W. As far as glass goes, I have read on Recyclebank that it is indefinitely recyclable, but certain glass products are not recyclable.
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