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Home > Garbage and Recycling > Recyclable Materials > Wood Fiber Products

Garbage and Recycling: Recyclable Materials: Wood Fiber Products

Wood Fiber Products
There are many types of wood fiber products (i.e., newspaper, cardboard, etc). Each type has its own challenges for recycling. 


By far, paper is the largest contributor to the municipal waste stream (28.5% or 71 million tons a year). About 63% of that waste is recycled.
     One of the major issues when recycling paper is the average wood fiber length. The longer the fiber the higher the quality of paper that can be made. Therefore, much of the paper that is made from virgin materials, (like computer paper) is of more value to the recyclers.

In the past, magazines were a wood fiber product that recyclers did not want to see. Magazines are a very complex paper product. They have a glue binder, glossy pages, perfume samples in plastic envelopes and ink.
     Great advances have occurred in the last 20 years on both sides of the equation. The Magazine publishers have changed the formulation of inks, glues and the materials that make the page glossy. The recyclers processes have advanced also. They separate the wood fiber from the rest of the components of the magazine more effectively.
     Other than recycling you could give your old magazines to charitable organizations and doctors offices. You can use them for children's projects or packaging.

Computer Paper:
This is the stuff! The high quality paper. Mostly made from virgin wood pulp this paper has long wood fiber. Therefore, it can be recycled 5-7 times. Recyclers are eager to take this material and may even pay you to get it. If you put it into your curbside recycle bin it may just be considered "mixed paper".

Print media has gone through a lot of changes the past few years. The advent of the internet has brought many papers online. Still, the EPA states that 24 billion newspapers are published every year. Roughly 10 million tons of newspapers get thrown into the landfill each year. In general, newspapers are a little shorter wood fiber so the paper is a little lower quality. Many newspapers use soy ink but not all.
     Usually, newspaper does not get you very much money from the recycler. For some, you might get a penny or two per pound. When recycled, it can be made into many things including new newspaper stock.

Shredded Paper:
Generally, people shred paper because it has sensitive or personal information on it. The act of finely shredding, cuts many fiber lengths down. This could be to the point of having little value for recycling.
     All is not lost, some recyclers will still take these. There are other uses as well. If the shreds are sent through a hammer mill and can be made into pellets for wood stoves. Shreds could also be "brown" material for compost heaps. See our page on composting.
     An alternative to shredding is using the Papermasher. This is a tough bag that you fill with your sensitive documents and send through your washing machine. Check out their website for more information. Or you can mash paper in another way. This mashed paper can be recycled, burned or used as other forms of paper.

Mail (including junk mail):
Mail is also a complex paper product. The envelope will have stamp, glue and binding glues. It may also have a plastic transparent window. The mail itself could be mostly paper but may contain thin plastic and glue.
     Recyclers in general will take your mail as mixed paper. You may want to remove the plastic and glue bearing pages from your mail. Usually, your recycler will take envelopes that have plastic windows, but you should check with your local recycler.
     It is estimated that more than 100 billion pieces of junk mail are sent per year in the US. Instead of recycling that you may want to consider removing your name from these mailing lists. It may take a little effort but it could be worth the hassle in the long run. 

Phone Books:
The EPA estimates that more than 800,000 tons of phone books went into landfills in 2008. Old phone books are also recyclable. The paper is mostly low quality and the inks sometimes are soy with a glue in the binder. Most all recyclers will take them; mainly considered as mixed paper.
     You may also be able to compost your old phone books or use them in other ways. Also, you can opt out of getting printed phone books by going here.

Corrugated and paperboard:
Corrugated and paperboard is very recyclable but also is biodegradable and safe for the land fill. Corrugated is medium to long wood fiber and glue. Sometimes they will have ink which could be soy or petroleum based.
     For most businesses, corrugated is the largest component of their solid waste stream. Therefore, many large stores will have a bailer for their corrugated. Smaller businesses can usually get a special corrugated dumpster and the waste company will usually pick it up. Also, many home recycle routes will take corrugated as well. You may be able to get money for your corrugated if you bring it into the recycler.

leaf Mixed and Other Paper:
Mixed paper is simply recovered paper not put into any of the other categories of paper. While all paper recycling has a fluctuating market, mixed paper usually suffers the most in a downward turn in the paper market. Why? Being mixed means the wood fiber lengths can be any size and may have to be mixed with a lot of virgin stock to make a useable product.
     A business may just consider all their paper "mixed" and recycle it that way. That means there would not be a need to have separate bins for the different types of paper making it convenient for the employees.
     Some paper that is not considered recyclable are candy wrappers, waxed paper and paper wrapping food. They are all considered "contaminated". Any paper that has come into contact with food is not a good candidate for recycling.


Items in our "Waste and Recycling" section.

  • Recycle Centers:
    Home Recycling ________________
  • Composters:
    Home Recycling ________________
  • Vermicomposters:
    Home Recycling ________________
  • Garbage Bags:
    Home Recycling ________________
  • Recycle Kits:
    Home Recycling ________________




http://donotmail.org/section.php?id=3 , junk mail facts. Taken 3/15/12 

http://www.ehow.com/facts_7406875_computer-paper-made_.html, How paper is made. taken 3/15/12

http://www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/movement.php, yellow pages go green, taken 3/15/12

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_ink, Soy ink, taken 3/15/12

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm#recycle, FAQ abut paper from EPA, taken 3/15/12

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Corrugated-Cardboard.html, how corrugated is made. taken 3/15/12

http://www.deq.state.ms.us/mdeq.nsf/page/Recycling_RecyclingTrivia?OpenDocument, facts from Mississippi DEQ, taken 3/15/12

http://www.afandpa.org/PaperRecycling.aspx, paper recycling, taken 3/18/12

http://www.papermasher.com/, The Papermasher home page. taken 4/7/13.

http://www.wastecare.com/Articles/Mixed_Paper_Recycling.htm, Mixed Paper Recycling, Wastecare Corporation, taken 4/7/13.