Paper & Cardboard FAQ’s
Q: What can and cannot be recycled in a mixed paper recycling program?
A: The rule of thumb is that if you can rip it, you can recycle it.
Q: Can I throw paper towels, paper plates, or paper cups in the mixed paper recycling?
A: No. The mixed paper must be free of contaminants (e.g., food, drink).
Q: Can I recycle paper with paper clips, staples or other metal clips on it?
Q: Can I recycle paper with tape on it?
Q: Can I recycle envelopes with windows?
Q: Where do the materials go and what does it get made into?
A: Paper is sent to mills in Maine, Canada and overseas. Most office paper is remanufactured into tissue and toweling products, or new printing and writing paper.
Q: Do I have to flatten the boxes for recycling?
A: We suggest they are flattened and stuffed inside a large box for loose pickups, or flattened before being placed into dumpsters. Flattening boxes saves space in your recycling containers allowing for more recycling.
Can I recycle cardboard with tape or staples on it?
Do I have to tie up my cardboard with rope or twine?
Can I include waxed cardboard in my cardboard recycling?
A. No. However, there is a new brand of “waxed” cardboard that is recyclable with cardboard. Currently, waxed cardboard can only be composted.
Where do the materials go and what do they get made into?
A. Cardboard is sent to national and international mills. Cardboard is primarily remade into new cardboard containers.
Paper & Cardboard Recycling
did you know…
- In 2010, 63.5 percent of the paper used in the U.S. was recovered for recycling. This represents an 89 percent increase in recovery since 1990.
- Every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
- 87 percent (268 million) of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs.
- In 2010 the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 334 pounds for each man, woman and child in the United States.
HSPH collects “mixed office paper,” which typically refers to a broad mix of office papers…plain white paper, colored paper, glossy, newspapers, magazines or envelopes…we’ll take it all. A general rule of thumb that applies to both paper and cardboard recycling: “If you can rip it, you can recycle it. See the lists below for a more comprehensive list of what we can and cannot collect.
If you’d like to print out signage for paper, or any other kind of recycling for your own department area, click here.