Can Colored Paper Be Recycled?
By recycling the proper items, we can make a positive impact on our planet and prevent excess garbage from being tossed into our landfills. However, knowing what items can be recycled is an important part of recycling. If we recycle the wrong items, it can cause more damage at recycling facilities. One popular question about recycling is what type of paper can be recycled. In order to be recycled, does paper have to be blank or can it be colored on? We have all the details!
Yes, colored paper can be recycled, as long as colored pencils were used for the coloring. However, it is recommended to not recycle paper with crayon drawings. When it comes to recycling paper, you also want to avoid recycling bright colored paper (where the entire page is a neon color) and shredded paper.
Can You Recycle Paper Colored with Crayons or Colored Pencils?
If you enjoy coloring yourself or you have children that spend large amounts of time coloring, it is common to wonder if you can recycle paper that has been colored with crayons or colored pencils. The answer is yes for colored pencils. However, it is recommended that you don’t recycle paper that has drawings with crayon.
Similar to wax paper used for baking, paper with crayon drawings has a wax consistency added to the paper. During the process of recycling, paper is broken down by water. Since the wax layer that crayons add can’t be removed completely during recycling, the paper would not be able to be properly recycled. The wax layer makes the paper moisture resistant.
However, if you have paper that has been colored on with colored pencils, most recycling facilities will accept this type of paper. In order for paper with colored pencil drawings to be recycled, you need to ensure that there is no glue or crayon markings on the paper. You should also check for any staples or adhesives on the paper, since some recycling facilities won’t accept paper with adhesives.
Can You Recycle Paper with Paint?
Similar to paper that has been colored on, many of us who enjoy creating art may wonder if paper can be recycled if it has paint on it. However, the answer to this question is no. Most types of paint can not be recycled since it can’t be broken down by water.
Even if you are using water-based paint for your art, this type of paint also harms the paper’s fibers. The fibers are essential when it comes to properly recycling paper. Once the paper fibers have been damaged in any way, the paper is no longer suitable for recycling. This is why you also can’t recycle paper if the paper fibers have been soiled as well (since it can’t be separated during recycling).
No matter what type of paint you are using for your artwork, we recommend staying on the safe side and not recycling any paper that has any sort of paint on it. It is important to remember that recycling paper with improper materials can do more damage than good at your local recycling facility.
Can You Recycle Bright Colored Paper?
You may think that blank, bright colored paper can be recycled. However, this is not correct. If paper is a solid bright color, it is recommended that you actually do not recycle this paper. To reach these bright colors, the paper experiences a large amount of dye in the process. Paper with large amounts of dye can disrupt the recycling process.
One way to think about it is washing a red sock. You would not want to wash a bright red sock with the rest of your white socks, since you would worry that the red color would affect your white socks. The last thing you would want is to end up with a bunch of pink socks. Recycling bright colored paper is similar. It can negatively affect the rest of the paper.
When you are using colored paper for posters or art projects, we recommend aiming for pastel colored paper instead of bright colored paper. If paper is a lighter pastel color, this type of paper can often still be recycled. It is the very bright colors you want to stay away from.
Can You Recycle Paper with Ink?
The most common type of paper that most of us have at home is paper with ink on it. Many of us wonder if we can recycle paper with ink on it. The answer to this specific question is yes! Paper with black or blue ink on it can be recycled.
Paper that has been written on using a black or blue pen, or has been printed on from an ink printer can be recycled. For the most part, ink does not negatively affect the paper fibers and the paper fibers can still go through the recycling process.
Paper with ink is often one of the most common recycled types of paper since this is the paper that most of us have around our house. It can consist of paper from a notebook, letters and bills we receive in the mail. Recycling as much of our paper as possible will have a positive effect on our planet, since it can be reused.
One type of paper that may have ink on it that you need to watch out for is sticky notes. Many of us use sticky notes to write notes or reminders on. Even though it has ink on it, sticky notes can often not be recycled since it will usually have an adhesive on the back. Some sticky notes also come in bright colors, which can’t be recycled.
Things to Look Out for When Recycling Paper
Similar to bright colored paper, paper with crayon drawings or paint, there are other things you need to look out for when you are recycling paper. If you recycle paper that has materials that can’t be recycled, you can cause more harm than good at your local recycling facility. To help you recycle only proper items, we recommend watching out for the following items when it comes to recycling.
The first item to watch out for is adhesives. As we mentioned previously, adhesives can’t be recycled at many recycling facilities. Adhesives can be on the back of sticky notes, added to some of the bills you receive in the mail and attached to other paper as well. Since a small amount of recycling facilities will remove adhesives, it’s important to check with your local recycling facility before you recycle any paper with adhesives.
The second item you want to watch out for is glue or anything else that could soil your paper. Glue is very similar to adhesives. Paper can not be successfully recycled if glue is attached to the paper, in most situations.
Other items that may soil your paper could be food, drinks or oils. If the paper fibers are soiled, the paper can often not be recycled. This is why you can’t recycle any sort of paper that has leftover food still attached or paper that has oil.
Most recycling facilities will vary when it comes to what types of paper they accept. As we mentioned, some may accept adhesives and others will not. There will be other variations depending on the recycling facility as well. Therefore, we always recommend checking with your local recycling facility when it comes to recycling paper and other recyclable items. They will be the best resource to letting you know what they will accept at their own facility.
1. Can I recycle paper that has been shredded?
No, paper that has been shredded is not recommended to be recycled. When you shred paper, you are also shredding the paper fibers. During the recycling process, the paper fibers are essential to successfully recycle paper and create new paper. Since the fibers are being minimized when you shred paper, it is not beneficial to recycle shredded paper.
2. Does recycling paper make a difference?
Yes, recycling paper makes a large difference for our planet! When you recycle proper paper that can be recycled successfully, the recycled paper can be turned into new paper. This means we will need to use less new resources for new paper and it also means less items will be put into our landfills. Reusing items only makes a positive difference for our environment.
3. Can paper be recycled an unlimited amount of times?
No, paper can not be recycled an unlimited amount of times. When you recycle paper, the paper fibers are being changed during the process. After being recycled, the paper fibers won’t be left in the new condition they were in before being recycled. Therefore, paper fibers can only be recycled and renewed so many times.
Once a piece of paper has been recycled for around 6-7 times, it can no longer be recycled successfully since the paper fibers will have been mixed too many times. This is partially why newspapers can only be recycled so many times as well (since newspapers are usually made out of completely recycled paper).
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