This column relates to recycling policies, procedures, tips, tricks and more for recycling programs in Greenbrier County, WV. Other programs and facilities in other locales may operate based on different approaches. Also please be advised, the market and technologies are ever evolving, and all information posted here is subject to change. Keep up the Good Fight! Going Green, Works!
Can paper that has had something glued on it, but removed, be recycled? This includes identification cards from organizations requesting a donation, as well as advertisements. ~Just Curious
Dear Just Curious,
Most of the time the answer to your question is yes. As long as you do not have an excessive amount of glue on paper and poster board, you can recycle them with paper. However, if the glued item is on waxy-feeling paper, it can’t be recycled.
Do I need to remove receipts from plastic shopping bags before putting them in the recycle bins at Kroger or Walmart? ~Shopper
Yes, you need to remove all receipts or any kind of paper from the bag before recycling it. Paper causes problems for plastic film recyclers. If there is a paper label on your plastic bag or wraps, remove it before recycling. Plastic labels on plastic film are okay. As with all recyclable items, plastic bags, wraps and films must be clean and dry before recycling. However, you do not need to rinse and dry out the bags before recycling them.
Dear Prefers Paper,
Yes, the Recycling Center in Ronceverte accepts these bags. Brown paper bags are recycled with cardboard. White paper bags are recycled with white/office paper. Plastic bags can be put in the recycling bins at Kroger or Walmart. Have you considered taking your own bags when shopping, especially at the grocery store? Many sizes and shapes are available that are environmentally friendly. It takes a while to get into the habit of taking your own bags, but it is worth the effort.
Dear Prefers Paper,
Yes, the Recycling Center in Ronceverte accepts these bags. Brown paper bags are recycled with cardboard. White paper bags are recycled with white paper. Plastic bags can be put in the recycling bins at Kroger or Walmart. Have you considered taking your own bags when shopping, especially at the grocery store? Many sizes and shapes are available that are environmentally friendly. It takes a while to get into the habit of taking your own bags, but it is worth the effort.
I have been recycling my office paper, magazines and newspapers. Are there any types of paper that cannot be recycled? ~Paper Recycler
Dear Paper Recycler,
Thanks for asking. Yes, some paper cannot be recycled. Any kind of paper, whether white, colored, magazine or newspaper, cannot be recycled if it is not dry and clean. Grease and food will not mix with the water needed to break down the paper into fibers. If paper that is greasy, or has food on it, is put in with clean paper, the whole batch is contaminated and cannot be used for recycling. Also, tissue paper and paper towels are not currently recyclable.
I receive so many catalogs for products in which I have no interest. I was told that a web site existed that could stop these catalogs from coming. Do you know the name of the website? ~Too Many Catalogs
Dear Too Many Catalogs,
Yes, there is such a website. It is Catalogchoice.org. They will help you “reduce unwanted mail, opt-out of catalogs, and remove your name from mailing lists.” It’s simple and free and will help you stop waste, reduce clutter and save natural resources. I have eliminated many catalogs using this website and highly recommend it.
No, tissue paper is not recyclable for two primary reasons. First, because it has a lower fiber content, tissue paper is harder to recycle. Second, most of today’s tissue paper has already been made from recycled paper, so it can’t be recycled again. Its short fibers make good compost as it decomposes quickly. As you probably know, there are many craft items that can be made with the many colors of tissue paper.
Last week, someone asked about recycling greeting cards and whether to put them in with magazines or paper. Your answer was to always put them in with magazines. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between newspaper advertisements. Some look like they could be a glossy and some appear to be colorful newsprint. Should they also all be put in with magazines? Glossy or newspaper? ~Confused
You are not the only one that is confused. My answer to the question about greeting cards was not exactly correct. When doing some research on recycling cards, I discovered that there is a better answer. First of all, glossy or slicks are described as looking like photographs. Using that description, a few greeting cards are glossy and they go in with magazines. However, most greeting cards, thank you notes, announcements, and postcards are matte and they go in with office paper. Color is a not a factor, unless it is glossy. What difference does it make whether a card is put in with paper or magazines? The difference is that office paper is worth several times what magazines are worth at a paper mill. The same is true with the newspaper advertisements. Glossy looking ads go in with magazines, all other ads stay in with the newspaper. Just as office paper is worth more than magazines, so are newspapers worth more than magazines.
We have had lots of rain lately and several times my newspapers have gotten wet, even though they were in a plastic sleeve. Is a newspaper that was wet, but now dry, still recyclable? ~Newspaper Reader
Dear Newspaper Reader,
Yes, I am happy to say, wet newspapers are still recyclable. Once they are dry, recycle them as usual. It is okay if they are still very slightly damp before your put them in recycling, but dry is definitely better.
What about paper towels? Do they compost? Can they be recycled? If so, how clean must they be? ~Recycler
Like tissue paper, most paper towels are made from recycled paper. Thus, they have fibers that are too short to be recycled again. However, these short fibers make paper towels a great candidate for the compost pile. Just be sure there is no grease or chemicals on them. As a single-use product, paper towels most often end up in the trash and eventually in the landfill. Microfiber cloths or cloth rags from your ragbag are excellent alternatives to paper towels. These cloths can be used for multiple household tasks and tossed into the washing machine. They can be reused many times. If you do purchase paper towels, be sure they are made out of recycled paper. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.” When purchasing any paper products, it is recommended that you purchase ones that are whitened without chlorine bleach or are unbleached. The chlorine used to bleach paper products is harmful to the environment and can be detrimental to human health. According to the San Mateo County RecycleWorks, “The bleaching of paper, whether virgin or recycled, is the leading cause of toxic water pollution in the U.S.”
What is made from recycled paper? Is it worth taking the time to separate it into white paper, colored paper, newspapers and magazines? ~Short on Time
Dear Short on Time,
Absolutely, it is worth the time it takes to sort recyclable white and colored paper, magazines, and newspaper. According to Earth911, the number of products made from recycled paper have increased rapidly because of concerns over the environment. All these items can be used for different products, if they are sorted. Products made from recycled office paper vary from toilet paper and paper towels to greeting cards, printer/copy paper, egg cartons, and grocery bags. Recycled magazine paper may be used to construct decorative items, such as handbags, vases, and jewelry. Recycled newspapers are made into newspapers and tissue paper. According to the San Mateo County RecycleWorks, “Each 20 cases of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 390 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, and 4,100 kwh of energy. It also eliminates 60 pounds of air-polluting emissions and saves 8 cubic feet of landfill space.”
Dear Recycle Lady is sponsored jointly by the Greenbrier Recycling Center and Greenworks Recycling.