Different grades of paper are used to produce a range of everyday items – from newspapers and magazines to advertising leaflets, brochures, telephone directories, catalogues and good old fashioned sheets of paper.

On the whole, paper is a recyclable material but there are exceptions and it is important to note that not all types of paper are accepted in your household recycling collections. Your local council will be able to advise you on the items it can accept.

Where can I recycle?

Newspapers, magazines, advertising leaflets, small brochures, envelopes (without windows) and paper – these are widely collected by most councils and can be put in your recycling bin unless your council has told you otherwise.

Window envelopes – many councils cannot accept these unless the ‘window’ has been removed from the envelope, please check with your local council.

Shredded paper – often this is not accepted as the small fibres can jam the machinery at the recycling facility; although some councils will accept shredded paper if it’s put inside an empty cereal box for example or put with green garden waste.

Before you recycle shredded paper, check with your local council.

Junk mail – these items can be put in your recycling bin unless your council has told you otherwise. If you would like to reduce the amount of mail you receive, the Mailing Preference Service gives advice on how you can do this.

Telephone directories – these are collected by most councils and can be put in your recycling bin unless your council has advised otherwise. In areas where you cannot recycle telephone directories at home, they are usually accepted at your local household waste recycling centre.  To save paper you can cancel your telephone directory home delivery as follows:

  • Yellow Pages, call Freephone 0800 671 444
  • Thomsons Local Directory, call 01252 390990

Catalogues – some catalogues can be recycled but this does vary from area to area.  It also depends on the type of catalogue. Check with your local council to see if you can pop your old catalogues in your local recycling collection scheme. Please see catalogues entry for more details.

Wrapping paper – some councils will accept plain wrapping paper (made from paper) if it does not have glitter, sticky tape or other embellishments on it. However, some wrapping ‘paper’ is not made from paper at all – it is a type of plastic and cannot be recycled.  Before recycling wrapping paper, please make sure your council will accept it.

Wallpaper – this is not recyclable and should be thrown away in your rubbish bin. Whether stripped from walls or leftover from a wallpapering project, the coatings that have been applied to the wallpaper make it unsuitable for recycling. These coatings include:

  • Vinyl coatings, applied to make wallpaper more resistant to water and other damage;
  • Textured effects may use polystyrene or plastic based materials;
  • Paint.

Can it be reused?

  • Use both sides of paper and remember to use scrap paper for making notes and shopping lists;
  • Newspapers and magazines can be used for children’s craft projects like collages and mosaics;
  • Use scrap paper to make paper-mache masks, pinatas, figurines or even decorative bowls for fruit or treats.

Can I do anything else with it?

  • Contact local doctors, dentists or hairdressers to see if they would like your old magazines for their waiting rooms;
  • Contact local play groups or primary schools to see if the would like your old magaines for creative projects.

Top tips:

  • Please do not put paper that has been contaminated with food waste in with your paper recycling;
  • You could reduce paper waste by signing up for paper-less billing;
  • When recycling paper envelopes remember to remove any plastic windows.