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Did you know? Copy paper ream wrappers are not recyclable

This is a public service announcement from your friendly Master Recycler!

That's right, folks. That ream wrapper contains a moisture barrier (a la wet-strength), which is composed of a plastic-y substance that cannot be recycled. While I can only speak for the Portland Metro area, a quick Google search indicated that college campuses around the country also prohibit recycling of ream wrappers. So, I can only assume that most municipalities don't want them either. You can always call or email your recycling service to find out for sure.

Now, you're probably thinking, Ack! I always throw those in the bin! Why don't the recycling guidelines list 'copy paper wrappers' as not acceptable? Well, they kind of do. Those wrappers fall under the 'paper coated with plastic' category (though it's hard to tell just by feeling the wrapper). But to specifically call them out? My guess is that it is a low priority. It's hard enough trying to get hundreds of thousands of residents to not throw plastic bags in the bin or to keep glass separate -- stuff that's far more important. I suspect they don't want to add in a bunch of smaller priority items and overwhelm residents. Plus, sorters at the Material Recovery Facilities are trained to pull out these items when they see them (though I doubt they can catch it all). So, now that you know, try and make their jobs a little easier and keep the wrappers out of the recycling bin. My Master Recycler guru always advised us: "When in doubt, throw it out." Better to end up in the landfill than to muck up the works at recycled paper mill.

Have you ever come across a paper wrapper that states it is recyclable? I have not, and I look every time. I'd love to hear about a brand that claims it!


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