In the U.S., we recycle a lot of paper; it accounts for half of the recyclables collected per year, and our paper recycling rate is 63 percent. However, paper still makes up 33 percent of our annual garbage output, so we have a long way to go.
Paper Recycling Tips
- Avoid getting paper wet, as this significantly reduces the recycling market. If your curbside program accepts all materials in the same bin/cart, empty your containers before tossing them in so they don’t drain on your paper. If there’s rain in the forecast, wait until the morning of collection to put your bin at the curb.
- If possible, use a black marker to remove sensitive information instead of shredding paper. Ink is easily removed in the recycling process, but shredding paper reduces the fiber lengths, making it more difficult to recycle into new paper.
- Verify what types of paper are accepted in your area, as some communities only accept certain grades. Definitely check to see if your community accepts paper lined with plastic, such as frozen food boxes and cartons.
- In the case of boxes (cardboard and paperboard), break them down to save room in your recycling bin.
Find a drop-off location for paper near you using our Recycling Locator.
Frequent Paper Recycling Questions
- Tips for a Paperless Office: A step to consider before paper recycling is paper reduction, especially in the office where we use it frequently
- How to Break the Paper Towel Habit: Tips for how to not use paper towels, which do not have a recycling market
- Everything You Need to Know About Paper Recycling: A quick tutorial on all things paper recycling