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Whether it’s your daily newspaper, the letters you receive, something you print out or a post-it note you stick up as a reminder, we’re surrounded by different types of paper at home.

Paper is a useful material that can easily be recycled but you can also reduce and reuse it easily too

Impact of Paper and Cardboard

The environmental effects of paper production include deforestation, the use of enormous amounts of energy and water as well as air pollution and waste problems. Cardboard is made from wood pulp and cellulose fibers, which means if it's not recycled, in order to make new cardboard, new trees need to be cut down.

Paper - What happens to it?
  • Paper is taken to a recycling plant where it is separated into different types and grades.

  • The separated paper is then washed with soapy water to remove inks, plastic film, staples and glue. The paper is put into a large holder where it is mixed with water to create ‘slurry’.

  • By adding different materials to the slurry, different paper products can be created, such as cardboard, newsprints or office paper.

  • The slurry is spread into large thin sheets using rollers.

  • The paper is left to dry and is then rolled up ready to be cut and made into new products.

Paper

Reduce

  • Use email or phone when possible

  • Sign up to online news services

  • Share magazines and newspapers with your friends and family

  • Print double sided

  • Reduce junk mail by signing up to the mail preference service or ask for a no junk mail sticker when you see us at a local event.

  • If you do need to buy paper, have a look to see if there are any recycled alternatives, you can easily get plain paper, envelopes, sticky notes, kitchen roll and toilet roll.

Reuse

  • Make a scrap pad from odd bits of paper

  • Use the back of that envelope for lists or notes

  • If you open your post carefully you may be able to re-use the envelopes. Just add a sticker or stick another piece of re-used paper to the front with the address of the person you want to send it to on.

  • Use paper for arts and crafts such as papier mache

  • Check out these items you could make with unwanted paper, 34 ideas from the web including a decorative trees, coasters, baskets and a protector for your tablet or phone.

  • Give your magazines to local surgeries or other waiting rooms

Recycle

  • Use your local recycling service

  • Put small amounts of shredded paper in your compost bin

  • Buy recycled paper products

Magazines

In the UK 2,600 magazines are bought every minute – that’s a lot of paper and a lot of trees, energy and waster needed to make them. So what can we do to reduce, reuse and recycle them?

Reduce

  • Share a magazine subscription. If you buy the same magazine as a friend or family member share the cost of the subscription and share the magazine.

  • Get the online version. The online price could be cheaper and you might be able to access it from your phone.

  • If your workplace gets two copies of the same magazine, cancel one to save paper and money.

Reuse

  • Swap magazines with your friends.

  • Donate your recently used magazines to your doctor or dentist so someone else can read it while sitting in the waiting room.

  • Find out if a local organisation, like a care home, children’s centre or library wants magazines for their clients.

  • Use the pages as packaging material to protect breakable items in the post. The paper can then be recycled after your parcel arrives safely.

Recycle

  • Put it with your other papers for recycling.

  • Use it to make your own paper.

Books

Whether it’s a classic, a romance or a crime thriller most of us enjoy spending time reading a book.

Reduce

  • Borrow books from your local library
  • Download e-books to read or listen to on your computer or e-book reader

Reuse

  • Donate books in good condition to your local library, school or charity shop
  • Swap books with your friends, neighbours or on-line.
  • Set up a local book group
  • Sell your old books

Recycle

If a book can’t be read again remove hardcovers and plastic before recycling your book as paper

Envelopes

White or brown, window or no window, envelopes in a variety of different sizes will be posted through your letterbox every week.

Reduce

  • Reduce junk mail

  • Sign up to read news on line or shop online

  • Use email

  • Put several items in the same envelope (check the postage value before sending)

Reuse

  • Put a sticker over the window on the envelope and use it to send your own post. You can buy these from organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund.

  • Write lists on the back of envelopes before recycling them.

Recycle

  • Put envelopes in with your paper to be recycled

Cardboard

We find card in all shapes and sizes at home, including cereal packets, kitchen rolls and corrugated cardboard boxes. It’s easy to use card over and over again.

Reduce

  • Ask for deliveries to be made in one go so you don’t get lots of small boxes.

  • Buy large boxes of cereal – they have less packaging than the same amount of cereal in smaller boxes.

  • Buy refills or take your own packaging to the shops

  • Tell your local supermarket if there’s too much card packaging around your food.

Reuse

  • Save cardboard boxes when you move home, flatten them to use when you move again or lend them to a friend.

  • Use them to store items in the loft, under your bed or in the wardrobe.

  • Ask your local school or playgroup if they need cardboard boxes for craft projects.

  • Use cardboard boxes as wrapping around items when you post them.

  • Cut out shapes from cardboard to make templates for sewing or painting.

  • Put cardboard behind photographs to stop them moving around in frames.

  • Make a doorstop or a draft insulator using cardboard

Recycle

  • Remove the tape and plastic film before recycling using your recycling service

  • Shred or rip it up in to small pieces to put in your compost bin

Hark! I better recycle, but I’m not sure what’s right…

Here are some top tips from Recycle Now for recycling commonly wasted paper and card at Christmas in the right way:

Christmas Cards galore
  • Christmas cards that don’t have glitter on are recyclable (glitter causes issues in the recycling process as it can’t be removed). So remember to tear off any glitter sections or non-paper items like badges and batteries.

  • You can also use the front of Christmas cards to make gift tags for next year.

  • With wrapping paper and gift bags there is the super handy scrunch test: if you scrunch it and it doesn’t spring back, then it can be recycled – sorted!

  • Cardboard packaging, including that from online shopping, can be recycled. Simply flatten to save space and remove any plastic or polystyrene. If possible don’t leave it out in the rain– if cardboard is wet then mould sets in meaning it can’t be recycled.

Still wanting to visit your local Recycling Centre?

Brent recycling centre

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Ealing recycling centre

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Harrow recycling centre

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Hillingdon recycling centre

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Hounslow recycling centre

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Richmond recycling centre

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Further reading

West London residents increased the amount of dry recycling by 15% and food waste recycling by 6% since the Coronavirus lockdown
With more residents staying at home since the 23rd of March, more people are making full use of their Council kerbside recycling collection services across London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Richmond upon Thames.
Read more
Materials

From household kerbside collections to your local recycling centres, we deal with a number of different types of waste materials.

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