flicking through a gift catalogue.
Catalogue Recycling

Catalogue Disposal and Recycling

Ordering through catalogues and brochures may be less popular than it once was with the rise of online shopping, but the traditional shopping method remains useful. Many retailers still print catalogues, even if it’s only for the festive season – and just over 100 million shoppers purchased products through a catalogue in 2019.

As most catalogues are seasonal, it can create large volumes of waste every year – in the UK and beyond. Whether you run a business with leftover catalogues or have some lying around your home, getting rid of them the right way helps protect our environment. Learn all about catalogue disposal and recycling.

Catalogue recycling

  • What type of waste are catalogues?

    Catalogues and brochures are a type of paper waste. They can typically be stored and disposed of in your recycling bin at home. For workplaces, you can normally recycle catalogues in any paper bins you have. If they have a plastic wrapper, remove this first and dispose of alongside any plastic waste.

  • Who invented catalogues?

    While they are now primarily used as a form of advertisement for companies, historians believe that the first catalogue was published in Venice in 1498. The product was designed by Aldus Pius Manutius, who created various translations of traditional Greek and Latin classics in this new format.

  • What materials are catalogues made from?

    Catalogues are typically made from paper. This is sometimes coated in chemicals such as calcium carbonate and bentonite, which gives it a shiny and glossy finish. The pieces are held together with glue or staples made from steel wiring.

  • How are catalogues made?

    Before catalogues are made, they’re often designed digitally. These designs are then sent to a printing or manufacturing company. Here the catalogues are made by:

    • Designs are printed onto high-quality paper.
    • The sheets of paper are then layered on top of each other in order by a machine. These pages are stapled, stitched, or glued together.
    • Finally, the catalogues are fed through a secondary machine. Here they’re cut down to their desired size – often A4 paper size.
  • How do you recycle catalogues?

    Despite popular misconceptions, catalogues can be recycled and therefore disposed of alongside the rest of your recyclable rubbish. At home you can normally thrown them away in your domestic recycling bin – as long as they’re clean and dry, and the bin accepts other forms of paper and cardboard waste.

    For businesses disposing of catalogues, you should:

    • Store them in the appropriate containers, such as a paper recycling bin. You don’t need to take out any staples ahead of time, as they’re removed during the recycling process itself.
    • Arrange commercial waste collection of your paper recycling bins by a licensed waste carrier.
    • They’ll collect your old catalogues and transport to a nearby recycling facility for safe and environmentally friendly recycling.
  • Can glossy catalogues be recycled?

    Yes, glossy catalogues, brochures, and magazines are made from paper and widely recycled. It’s a common misconception that glossy paper can’t be recycled, but if it tears then it should be recyclable. At the recycling plant catalogues will be sorted by specialists to ensure as much as possible is recycled.

  • How are catalogues recycled?

    When you recycle catalogues alongside other dry mixed recycling or paper waste, they’ll be collected and taken to a nearby recycling centre. Here the recycling process is similar to the following:

    • Catalogues are sorted and separated from other paper types and stored with similar products such as magazines and brochures before disposal.
    • All of these products are then run through a machine that shreds the paper, before mixing it with water to create a form of pulp.
    • During this time, any staples are extracted from the mix.
    • The pulp is then cleaned, which removes ink and dye from the mixture, alongside any additional contaminants.
    • The pulp is then used to create new paper-based products.
  • Are there any alternatives to catalogues?

    While catalogues are still an excellent way for companies to drive sales, they don’t always lead to success. As a result, companies must look into more sustainable alternatives that don’t produce large quantities of paper waste. For example, online catalogues and sales sites are often just as effective as a printed catalogue.

  • Can you do anything with catalogues instead of throwing them away?

    While it may not seem like catalogues serve any purpose once used (or a new catalogue is introduced by the same company), these products can be used for various craft projects. You can cut out pictures for projects, create papier-mâché from the sheets, or simply use as a makeshift doorstop (depending on its size).

    If you don’t fancy putting your artistic flair to the test, you could also donate them to local schools or educational facilities. They can use old catalogues for scrapbooking or collage making. Finally, paper products can be shredded and used in composting too.

  • How many catalogues are there in landfill?

    Unfortunately, as little as 20% of magazines (and similar products, such as catalogues) are recycled in the UK. In the USA it’s estimated that 350 million magazines and catalogues are printed every year. This means around 280 million of them may end up in landfill when they should be recycled.

  • What are some facts about catalogues?

    A few useful facts about catalogues are that:

    • Catalogues are ‘deinked’ during the recycling process, which removes all colour and ink from the pulp. This means they can be used to create pristine, white paper again.
    • The average time spent looking at a catalogue is 15.5 minutes.
    • At its peak IKEA printed 220 million copies of its catalogue for distribution around the world, before it stopped producing them in 2020.
  • Where can you take catalogues to recycle or dispose of them for free?

    You can dispose of catalogues in your domestic recycling bin at home, which the local council collect for free. Alternatively, you can drop them off at your local supermarket’s waste collections – some may have specific catalogue bins.

    For businesses, you’ll need to arrange commercial waste collection. This incurs a cost but is the only legal and safe way to get rid of your business waste. Get a free quote for collection of your old catalogues when you contact us online today.

Learn about more 
waste types

Find out more about other rubbish streams.

Read our guides to waste types
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