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.

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.”

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

Dear 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.