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Most types of paper can be recycled. Newspapers have been recycled profitably for decades, and recycling of other paper is growing. Virgin paper pulp prices have soared in recent years prompting construction of more plants capable of using waste paper. They key to recycling is collecting large quantities of clean, well-sorted, uncontaminated and dry paper.
50% recycled paper,
It is important to know what you are buying in a paper product, for that reason virtually all paper products should be marked with the percentage and type of recycled content, as above (C). Just saying "recycled paper" is not enough. "Recycled paper" could mean anything from 100% true recycled paper to 1% re-manufactured ends of large paper rolls.
"Post-consumer" means the paper that you and I return to recycling centers. From a recycling point of view, the more "post-consumer" paper the better. Soybean-based inks are gaining favor as a renewable alternative to harsh and toxic petrochemical inks.
White Office Paper
One of the highest grades of paper is white office paper. Acceptable are clean white sheets from the likes of laser printers and copy machines. Colored, contaminated, or lower grade paper is not acceptable. The wrappers the paper comes in are of lower grade, and not acceptable. Staples are OK. White office paper may be downgraded, and recycled with mixed paper.
In areas that don't take cardboard from consumers, one can often drop boxes off at a supermarket or other high volume business. Contaminated cardboard, like greasy pizza boxes, is not acceptable. In some areas cardboard must be free of tape, but staples are always OK.
Newspaper is widely available and of uniform consistency, which makes it valuable. The entire newspaper including inserts acceptable, except for things like plastic, product samples and rubber bands. Newspapers may be stuffed in large brown grocery sacks, or tied with natural-fiber twine. Other brown paper bags may be mixed with newspaper.
Some phone books are made with a special glue that breaks down in water, while other phone books use a glue that interferes with recycling. Printed in your phone book should be information on the source and type of paper used, the nature of the binding, and where locally phone books can be recycled (C). Note that many phone companies continue to use virgin rain forest to produce directories. In many communities phone books are only accepted during the time new directories are distributed.
Waxed cartons (Milk, juice)
Milk cartons are plastic laminated inside, even if they don't have a plastic spout. (C).
Mixed paper is a catch-all for types of paper not specifically mentioned above. Everything you can imagine from magazines to packaging is acceptable. The paper must still be clean, dry, and free of food, most plastic, wax, and other contamination. Staples are OK.
Remove plastic wrap, stickers, product samples, and those pointless "membership" cards, and most junk mail can be recycled as mixed paper. Due to new technology, plastic window envelopes and staples are generally OK.
Paper that can't be recycled
Paper that can't be recycled as normal "mixed paper" includes: food contaminated paper, waxed paper, waxed cardboard milk & juice containers, oil soaked paper, carbon paper, sanitary products or tissues, thermal fax paper, stickers and plastic laminated paper such as fast food wrappers, juice boxes, and pet food bags.
Paper with any sort of contamination or plastic layers can't be recycled. Plastic laminated paper is bad for recycling plants; such paper should be clearly marked (A).
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