Recycling Envelopes

Paper goods make up almost a third of the UK’s household waste. That includes envelopes!

Can i recycle envelopes?

Yes, in most areas. Some local authorities will accept envelopes with your regular kerbside collections or at your nearest paper bank.

How should i recycle envelopes?

Firstly check that your local authority can accept them through their website or by giving them a ring. Then put them in the bags or boxes provided for kerbside collection, or deposit them in the appropriate recycling bank at your nearest centre.

There are some local authorities where envelopes are not collected. This is because although the paper the envelopes are made from can be recycled, some paper mills cannot process the glues which are present in envelopes.

What are they made from?

Envelopes are made from paper and glue, and often have plastic address panes. Padded envelopes are made with thicker paper and then padded with plastic and/or other filler materials such as shredded paper or plastic.

Plastic windows are not normally a problem for paper mills as the window can usually be easily screened out during the manufacturing process.

It is very rare for padded envelopes (often know through their trade name Jiffy Bags) to be accepted for recycling as they are a “composite material”. In other words they are made up of more than one thing – paper, plastics and other filler materials. In deciding on whether or not the padded envelope can be recycled firstly check to see if it contains any printed recycling symbols. Failing that, take a look inside. Does it contain plastic bubble wrapping? If so, sadly it will probably need to be disposed of in your normal waste collection. Some padded envelopes may be padded with a paper lining and padding. These can be recycled the same way as other paper products.

What else can i do with them?

Rather than throwing away used envelopes, or recycling them, you can reuse them with new address labels.