Paper Recycling & Disposal
When many consumers think of recycling, their minds automatically stray to aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Recycling paper is one of the best things you can do for the environment, though, so it’s important to work with a waste management company that offers this option. When you work with us for all of your waste management needs, you can rest assured that we will always take the most ethical approach to product disposal, and that includes ensuring that clean paper gets recycled and reused instead of winding up in a landfill.
Why Recycle Paper?
Wood may be a renewable resource, but that doesn’t mean the paper products made out of it should be used once and thrown away. Each ton of paper thrown in the garbage takes up 3.3 cubic yards of space in a landfill. Landfill space is already at a premium and this trend is likely to continue no matter how green modern consumers try to be, so saving that space for garbage that can’t be recycled safely is always a good idea.
Paper recycling also conserves energy and resources. Recycling one ton of paper will prevent 17 trees from needing to be cut down. Processing the used paper and turning it into new consumer goods will also save 7,000 gallons of water and 463 gallons of oil, making paper recycling much more resource-efficient than creating new paper products from wood pulp.
Grades of Paper
Not all paper is created equal. Lower grades of paper have shorter fibers. Thankfully, wood fibers are long enough, to begin with, that they can be reused up to seven times before they’ll need to be mixed with fresh materials.
The number of times paper has been recycled isn’t the only way it’s classified. It can also be broken down into five categories of recyclable goods.
High-Grade, Deinked Paper
This category consists of things like letterhead, copy paper, and envelopes that have been deinked during the recycling process. This is one of the most useful recycled paper products for manufacturers looking to produce consumer goods.
Newspapers are almost always made with some degree of recycled paper, so they tend to have smaller fibers and may need to be mixed with new wood fiber to make viable paper products. In most cases, they’re still recyclable, though. Mills can use them to make new newspapers, tissues, and other soft paper products that can benefit from shorter fibers.
Mixed paper is a broad category. It includes everything from phone books to magazines, catalogs, and some types of mail. Mixed paper can be glossy or matte and can be printed in any color ink. Not all paper goods that fall into this category can be recycled, so it’s best to ask the recycling company or facility what they can take.
Business owners and consumers should always recycle clean used corrugated cardboard and containers. It’s almost always found in consumer packaging. Keep in mind that if the container has food, chemicals, or another contaminant on it during use, it can’t be recycled.
Most consumers will never encounter pulp substitutes, except in their processed form. This category consists exclusively of paper scraps discarded from mills. It is sometimes recycled and used in consumer products.
Best Practices for Recycling Paper
Not all paper can be recycled, although most of it can. If the paper is soiled, it belongs in the garbage. Otherwise, there are a few options.
Waste management companies sometimes offer single-stream recycling collection. It allows customers to place all their recyclables in the same bin, including paper. It’s essential that consumers take the time to ensure that the paper that winds up in their single-stream recycling bins is contaminated.
Those who produce occasional excesses of recyclable waste should note that municipal recycling programs sometimes place limits on how much glass, plastic, cardboard, and paper customers can get rid of at once. It’s often better to rent a recycling dumpster and schedule a pickup with a private company than it is to just let all that waste build up.
This type of recycling collection requires residents to sort everything separately. In some cases, they may have to place different types of waste paper in different bins. Remove all staples, paperclips, and other objects from the paper before putting it in a sorted-stream recycling bin.
The best way to dispose of large amounts of shredded paper is to rent a specialized dumpster. It shouldn’t be placed in single-stream recycling containers, and not all recycling companies take shredded paper in sorted-stream containers. Those with data security or client confidentiality in mind have a better alternative for disposing of shredded documents.
Businesses and some individuals can produce large amounts of shredded paper when they destroy sensitive documents, so it makes little sense to put them out with residential or commercial recycling. They would take up the whole dumpster. Instead, give us a call to make arrangements for a specialized dumpster to ensure that your shredded paper is disposed of safely, securely, and responsibly.
What Paper Products Can’t Be Recycled?
The vast majority of uncontaminated paper is fully recyclable, but there are some things consumers can’t dispose of in municipal or private recycling bins. The following paper products must be disposed of with traditional household waste:
- Magazines and catalogs coated with plastic
- Juice boxes
- Used paper cups
- Paper towels
- Chemically treated paper goods
The Bottom Line
Recycling paper is a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly solution than throwing it away with conventional household waste bound for the landfill. Consumers should find out from their waste management companies or municipal facilities whether they have to sort paper before recycling it.
If you have an excess of shredded paper or paper goods, more generally, to get rid of, it usually makes more sense to call a company that can provide a specialized paper dumpster instead of holding onto all of it until it can be disposed of via weekly pickups. Don’t worry. We can help.