How to Recycle Paper

In the UK most councils have paper recycling collections at the kerbside; do you know how to prepare your paper for recycling and which paper can be recycled?

Most people if in doubt, put their paper products in recycling to make sure as much of their waste is recycled as possible. However, this isn’t the best strategy as a single unrecyclable item can lead to a whole bin of recycling being funnelled for the landfill at the recycling centre. This is to prevent contaminants from damaging the whole batch of paper in production. So what are the most common contaminants which lead to our paper ending up in a landfill? 

  1. Plastics. Often plastics are attached to paper or even masquerade as paper.
  2. Food. Greasy paper containers are a no go.
  3. Coated paper. For example photo paper
  4. Glues and sticky tape (Sellotape), e.g. hardback bound books, post-it notes or wrapping paper with tape attached
  5. Low-grade paper such as tissue paper or kitchen roll
  6. Shiny or glittery paper
  7. Painted or stained paper. e.g. children’s artwork
  8. Wallpaper
  9. Foil wrapping paper
  10. Christmas and birthday cards with metallic foil or glitter
  11. Stapled paper. Remove the staple and its okay.

Paper cups are coated in plastic or wax and cannot be recycled at the kerbside as they require special processing to remove their film. However, they can usually be recycled at the outlet you purchased them from. Costa and Starbucks both have recycling schemes for their cups, but as it’s often awkward getting back there, we recommend using reusable cups.

Cardboard and brown paper can be recycled; some councils have separate card recycling where these items should be placed to prevent brown specks in a new paper.

Thankfully junk mail, flyers and newspapers are all fine for recycling, as are envelopes with windows and catalogues. 

Paperback books and magazines can also be recycled. However, we recommend that they are reused where possible. Often charity shops, libraries or schools are happy to receive them and magazines are usually gratefully accepted by community centres, doctor surgeries or dental practices. 

All of the wrapping paper sold here at Little Green is recyclable, but it is important to remove any tape, bows or ribbons before recycling it.

So in summary, take care to remove plastic tapes and wrapping from your paper, ensure the paper is of reasonable quality, that it is clean and reuse where possible.