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Paper and Packaging Board research finds that 60% of U.S. adults feel that paper recycling is easy

Bales of paper and cardboard inside of a facility
P+PB's research of nearly 2,400 adults also revealed that very few felt burdened by recycling paper and cardboard. Pixabay

Recent research from the Paper and Packaging Board (P+PB) has found that 66 percent of U.S. adult consumers believe that recycling paper is worth it and 60 percent felt that recycling is easy. With the holiday season approaching, P+PB is encouraging consumers to embrace the season and to help the planet by recycling and reusing paper products.

"Our research shows that consumers understand the value of recycling paper. The holidays are a very paper intense season, so we wanted to capture and grow their interest with practical and fun ways to make the holidays more earth-friendly," said Mary Anne Hansan, president of P+PB. "Since paper and paper packaging can be recycled up to seven times and are sourced from trees – a renewable resource – the abundance of paper during the holidays makes it a great time to build better recycling habits for families."

P+PB's research of nearly 2,400 adults also revealed that very few felt burdened by recycling paper and cardboard. In fact, only 14 percent reported that it was a "hassle." In addition, only 14 percent thought the process of recycling paper as well as paper packaging was confusing, indicating a more widespread understanding and acceptance of recycling practices. Even though recycling is more accepted, earlier P+PB studies show that consumers still need help remembering best practices and reminders about what can and cannot be recycled.

Since families and friends gather, share meals, and exchange gifts, the holidays are a great time to encourage even wider adoption of recycling habits. P+PB has a guide, "Celebrate the Holidays Sustainably with Paper," that includes a list of tips with easy ways to recycle and reuse paper and paper-based products to make the holidays more sustainable.

How to celebrate the holidays more sustainably

  • Turn a shipping box from online delivery orders into holiday recycling bins. Place them strategically around the house to encourage easy recycling.
  • Empty and flatten cardboard gift and shipping boxes before recycling. No need to remove tape or shipping labels.
  • Send guests home with paper containers for the holidays. Paper to-go containers (and other products like paper baking pans and paper cake moulds) are all made from renewable sources.
  • Turn cardboard boxes into game boards, a kid's fort, and more.
  • Cushion gifts and ornaments that are fragile or being shipped by using festive paper-based filler options like recyclable tissue paper, crinkle paper, or craft paper.
  • Choose the perfect card. Avoid ones with glitter or made from photo paper; otherwise, paper cards and envelopes are recyclable.
  • Wrap gifts with an earth-friendly style. Brown craft paper or wrapping paper without glitter or foils is recyclable.

Beyond the holidays, understanding which paper items are typically accepted for recycling can transform the seasonal recycling spirit into a year-round habit. Consumers should check local guidelines to confirm as they can vary by location and are frequently updated.

Recyclable items include:

  • Notebooks, catalogues, and phone books
  • Receipts (unless they have thermal coatings)
  • Mail, envelopes (even those with windows), and coupons
  • White and coloured paper, printer paper, file folders, and stationery
  • Boxes like pizza boxes and ones for cereal, shoes, laundry detergent, and medicine
  • Juice, egg, and milk cartons
  • Magazines (no need to remove staples)

Paper-based products are made with the planet in mind, as they are created out of a renewable resource – tree fibre and often out of recycled paper products. For example, a recycled pizza box may find new life as a cereal box.

In the U.S., paper companies work with private forest land landowners to grow and maintain forests at a rate nearly double the volume needed to make paper, packaging, and boxes. Recycling makes further use of these resources and contributes to a healthier planet. 

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