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Paper Waste Recycling

Recycling paper is essential for every business to protect the planet and save money – as almost all paper is recyclable. If your operations only generate minimal paper waste, then you might get rid of it with your dry mixed recycling. However, for businesses that produce a lot of waste paper, having separate paper bins to store and remove it is best. Arrange paper recycling with Business Waste from any location in the UK today.

Recycling is a key environmental concern, especially when it comes to paper. It helps save trees, which is crucial to the sustainability of our planet, and significantly reduces the amount of water and electricity required to make new paper. We offer free paper bins for your waste, you just pay for collection. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online for a fast and free quote to remove your paper waste.

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Paper waste 

Our paper recycling services provide an effective way to manage your paper waste that benefits your business and the environment. Improve your paper waste management with a uniquely tailored paper recycling service. Arrange the right size and number of bins for delivery and collection as often as you need.

We understand not all businesses have the same paper waste requirements, from offices to factories. That’s why we assess every business we work with first to deliver the most effective paper recycling service for your organisation – anywhere in the UK.

Once the paper bins arrive on your business premises, simply fill them up within the weight limits and leave at the agreed location. Our registered carriers will come and collect your recycling on a daily, weekly, or fortnightly basis and transport it to a nearby recycling facility.

Whether you need regular paper waste removal or a one-off job, get in touch with our team and we’ll find a solution that works. Call us today on 0800 211 8390 or fill in an online contact form with any questions you may have or to arrange paper waste collection for your business.

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Commercial paper recycling 

There are a wide range of paper recycling bins available to suit different businesses, waste paper output, and storage facilities. Wheelie bins are perfect to store waste paper and other dry mixed recyclables, such as cardboard. A large waste paper bin can hold a greater amount of paper, meaning you don’t have to arrange daily paper collection.

If you regularly produce large volumes of paper waste, a skip may be the best option for your business. However, you may need to obtain a permit to permanently store a skip on your property, regardless of the size you chose.

Balers and compactors are excellent storage solutions for companies who produce huge volumes of waste paper and similar materials. They compress the materials into smaller blocks, to make the most of your space and reduce the frequency of waste pick-ups.

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  • Small paper recycling bin

    Small paper bin for limited space and little waste

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  • 360L paper recycling bin

    Large two-wheel waste paper bin for greater waste

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  • 660L paper recycling bin

    A four-wheel bin ideal for larger amounts of paper recycling

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Who needs 
paper recycling?

Pretty much all industries and businesses produce paper waste. Depending on what your workplace does will affect how much waste paper you output. Offices often generate a lot of small scraps and plenty of shredded paper, while factories that rely heavily on paper wrapping, usually have much larger sheets of paper that need recycling.

Any industry that uses paper in any form therefore produces waste. Paper waste management is key to efficiency, while having a recycling strategy in place ensures a positive environmental impact, rather than just throwing it in with general waste.

Some of the main businesses that require paper recycling include:

  • Factories – this is the main source of mill broke, when waste paper is a by-product of various manufacturing processes.
  • Landlords – lots of paperwork and confidential documents can be recycled when no longer needed.
  • Offices – everything from printer paper to contracts and secure documents can be recycled.
  • Retail – paper packaging is a big waste output for all sorts of retail businesses.
  • Schools – a wide range of documentation, students’ old work, wall decorations and more are recyclable.

How does waste 
paper collection work?

  1. Select your free bins

    It’s quick and easy to organise commercial waste collection for your business.

    Simply start by telling us the:

    • Type of waste you need removing
    • Size of bins you require
    • Number of bins you want

    We’ll provide you with a free quote.

  2. Arrange delivery

    When you’re happy with the type, number, and size of free bins, tell us when you need your bins delivering.

    Let us know about any access issues where you want the bins delivering – such as locked gates, access codes and times. We’ll get you up and running in no time.

  3. Fill up your bin

    After the free bins arrive at your chosen location, fill them up with the agreed waste type.

    Make sure you remain within any weight limits for the specific waste type and bin size.

  4. Get your business waste collected

    We’ll arrange waste collection at a time and frequency to suit you and the amount of waste you have.

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What is 
paper waste?

Paper waste is any form of paper that’s no longer usable and needs disposing. It’s essentially the kind of material we’d class as ‘scrap paper’. For example it could be old newspaper, bills, or letters. It needs to be free from contaminants to be recyclable. For businesses, printing errors, junk mail, and packaging are some of the main paper waste types.

There are three different types of paper waste you can recycle:

  • Mill broke – any paper scrap or trimmings produced when manufacturing paper. It’s generally recycled internally by the paper mills.
  • Pre-consumer waste – paper sent away from the paper mill but discarded before a consumer uses it.
  • Post-consumer waste – paper material received and used by a consumer and then discarded, such as newspapers, packaging, and printing paper.
How to reduce paper waste
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What is 
paper recycling?

Paper recycling is the reprocessing of discarded waste paper to produce a recycled form of paper made from the original materials. This includes re-purposing old newspapers and magazines, packaging, used or unwanted paper materials, scraps from paper mills, and more. It can be recycled either in its original form or shredded.

Recycled paper is the result of this process and is used to create new containerboard (the material for cardboard boxes), paper towels, newspapers, and more. Recycling paper also uses 70% less energy compared to forming paper products from brand new pulp – making it a much more environmentally friendly option.

How to dispose of 
paper waste

The easiest and greenest way to dispose of your waste paper is to arrange delivery of paper recycling bins to your business. Once these arrive at your premises you can simply fill them up with all your paper waste, staying within the designated weight limits for the bin sizes you have.

It’s essential that you only put clean and dry paper into these bins to avoid introducing any contaminants. Wax paper, thick card, plastics, and other materials should be removed. There’s no need to shred the paper either, as this can make it harder to distinguish and break down the fibres.

When you’ve filled your bins with appropriate waste paper, simply move them to the agreed pickup point for collection. Then they’ll be taken to a recycling plant for processing and turned into new paper products.

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How is 
paper recycled?

Paper is one of the most widely recycled products in the world and continues to grow in prominence. The general paper recycling process can be split into six steps:

  1. Waste paper disposal – Paper waste is thrown into the appropriate paper waste bin at your home or workplace. These bins are filled within their weight limits and left at an accessible and agreed collection point.
  2. Transportation – A licenced waste carrier collects the paper recycling bins and takes them to a paper recycling facility near you for processing.
  3. Separation – After the paper is dropped off at the recycling facility, it will be separated. This can involve removing the paper from any other dry mixed recyclables and dividing the waste paper by type or grade.
  4. Cleaning – Once separated, the paper is washed to get rid of any contaminants, removing any ink, glue, or staples. It’s then poured into a large container and mixed with water – creating a combination known as slurry. Different materials are then added to make new paper or cardboard.
  5. Spreading – The slurry is spread out, ready to be cut into fine sheets for use. It’s left to dry, before being cut ready for use.
  6. Redistribution – The recycled paper is then ready for reuse or resale and will be transported to warehouses, factories, retailers, and anywhere else for use.

What types of paper 
can be recycled?

A wide range of paper types, grades, and products can be recycled both at home and in the workplace. It’s important you ensure these are clean and dry before throwing in with the rest of your paper for recycling. Keep all such recyclable paper types in one piece where possible, to avoid damaging the fibres – as this can affect their ability to be recycled.

Some of the most common types of paper you can recycle include:

  • White and coloured paper
  • Envelopes
  • Booklets and manuals
  • Soft-covered books
  • Post-it notes
  • Receipts
  • Manila folders
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Flyers

Which kind of paper 
cannot be recycled?

Unfortunately, you can’t recycle all used paper. Even some types of new and unused paper aren’t recyclable. This is often because they’re contaminated with other elements that can’t be cleaned off or their fibres are too short, which leads to pulp that’s too low quality in the recycling process to be useful.

In some cases, there are more environmentally friendly alternatives to using non-recyclable paper types. This can include replacing single-use items with reusable, washable cloth alternatives, using 100% recycled paper for any products you can’t recycle, composting some paper waste, and simply avoiding or reusing any non-recyclable paper where possible.

The main kinds of paper that cannot be recycled and why include:

  • Paper towels and napkins – contaminated with food, grease, and liquids
  • Toilet paper – paper fibres are too short, but you can recycle the cardboard roll
  • Wax paper – wax is non-recyclable, and it usually contains food contamination
  • Plastic coated paper – some plastic can be separated during the recycling process

Recycling shredded paper

Recycling shredded paper is trickier than most other paper types and should be disposed of separately. Shredded paper fibres are short, which makes turning them into good-quality pulp for use in new paper products harder. Plus, they can get trapped in paper recycling machines, causing a fire hazard.

Shredding paper is unavoidable when getting rid of confidential documents though. You can’t dispose of shredded paper with the rest of your paper recycling or in a household recycling bin. And avoid putting it in with your general waste, as all these options will likely mean it ends up in a landfill.

Recycling shredded paper should be done with a specialist service. Businesses can arrange commercial confidential waste collection, while consumers can find a local recycling centre that accepts shredded paper. You’ll have to use separate bags or bins to store any shredded paper apart from other paper for recycling.

The shredded paper is processed and recycled into lower-grade paper products, such as toilet paper, paper hand towels, and tissues You can also recycle shredded paper by using it as packaging material to protect items, as animal bedding or adding it to compost (as long as it’s not glossy).

Learn about our confidential shredding service

Paper recycling 

According to recent studies, recycling one tonne of paper can save 17 trees, between 3000 to 4000 kWh of electricity and around 30,000 litres of water. That’s enough to sustain an average three-bedroomed house for a whole year. Producing recycled paper also uses about 30% less energy consumption and less water compared to creating new paper.

In the UK, 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are used every year. It works out that each person also uses the equivalent of just over four trees’ worth of paper annually. While the digital age means consumption of paper is slowing, a significant amount is still used.

The average family living in the UK throws away six trees’ worth of paper each year.

An average office uses 50 sheets of paper in a day through unnecessary printing. Statistics suggest office workers get through around 10,000 sheets of A4 paper every year. It’s not just the number of trees this affects – one sheet of A4 paper requires five litres of water to produce, which means about 50,000 litres are used by office workers annually just for paper.

Despite being easily recyclable, paper accounts for a quarter of all landfill waste around the world. This contributes to air and water pollution, while creating virgin paper rather than from recycled paper increases deforestation and energy consumption.

Paper waste facts and stats

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Recycling paper

  • PAPER Can you recycle tissue paper?

    No, you can’t normally recycle tissue paper as it’s often made from very short fibres. This provides its thin feel but means if it’s recycled it forms low quality pulp that can’t be used to create new types of paper. Most tissue paper and tissues are already made from recycled paper though, so it’s still a somewhat sustainable paper source.

  • PAPER Can you recycle shredded paper in the UK?

    Shredded paper can be recycled in the UK, but it depends on the recycling facility. Normally, shredded paper can’t be recycled with regular paper waste, as shredding weakens it. The fibres become too short to create good quality recycled paper. Shredded paper must be recycled separately.

    Some local authorities and recycling plants collect and recycle shredded paper separately. If the paper is still of a good enough quality it can be recycled into low-grade paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper. Businesses can arrange commercial waste collection of shredded paper separately from other paper recycling to ensure it’s reused.

    Learn more about what to do with shredded paper your business produces and how to recycle confidential waste with Business Waste.

  • PAPER Can you recycle post-it notes?

    Yes, you can recycle post-it notes in the same way as any other type of paper. Throw used post-it notes into your paper recycling bin and they’ll be transported to a recycling facility. Even though they contain a small amount of adhesive, this is removed during the cleaning part of the process, so they can be safely and efficiently recycled.

  • PAPER What can paper be recycled into?

    Paper for recycling can be transformed into a variety of new paper and card products sold to consumers and businesses. Some of these paper products can be recycled time and again, though others may come to the end of their life. Paper can be recycled into:

    • Cardboard
    • Brown parcel paper
    • Kitchen and toilet roll
    • Greetings cards and wrapping paper
    • Printer and photocopier paper
    • Paper bags
  • PAPER Can you recycle paper with staples?

    Yes. It’s helpful to remove staples before putting paper in a recycling bin, but at the recycling facility any contaminants will be removed anyway. This includes staples, as metal can get caught in the recycling machinery and cause problems, as well as affect the quality of recycled paper.

  • PAPER Can you recycle wallpaper?

    No, unfortunately you can’t recycle wallpaper with your business’ paper or cardboard recycling. Coatings on wallpaper stripped from walls or due to be applied often include dyes, inks, and glues, which are almost impossible to separate from the paper. Such contaminants mean wallpaper can’t go through the regular paper recycling process.

    You may be able to recycle new, unused wallpaper if it’s completely paper based and has no coating of any other materials. Sometimes unused wallpaper rolls might class as bulky waste and have to be disposed of alongside other bulky items. There are also eco-friendly wallpapers available made from recycled paper and you can donate leftover wallpaper to charities and other businesses to stay green.

  • PAPER Can you recycle laminated paper?

    No, laminated paper is not recyclable. This is because the plastic coating is made from another type of material that needs breaking down and recycling by a different process to the paper it’s wrapped around. If you can separate the paper and plastic, then both can be recycled individually, but this is often tricky, and the paper may still contain some plastic contaminants.

    Learn more about plastic recycling

  • PAPER Is greaseproof paper recyclable?

    Greaseproof or baking paper isn’t recyclable even if it’s unused. This is because it’s made with a silicone coating containing various chemicals, which you can’t separate from the paper. It can also sometimes retain waste oil from the baking process. After being used it will be covered in food, liquid, and other contaminants that are hard to remove without damaging the paper quality and its fibres.

    Where possible, search for alternative products to use, like a glass baking tray. It’s a common household item but is also used frequently across the hospitality industry in restaurants and bakeries.

  • PAPER How is paper made?

    Paper has gone on a long journey before it became the final product sitting on your desk. Here’s precisely how paper is made.

    • Chipping – bark is first removed from the logs, which are then chipped into smaller, more manageable pieces.
    • Pulping – the chips are then broken down into pulp through the use of a chemical called lignin. This process extracts the cellulose fibres that make up paper from the source materials.
    • Papermaking – pulp is then poured into a machine that removes any excess water. It then spreads out and forms a thin sheet. Finally, it’s flattened, dried, and cut to size.
  • PAPER How much paper do we use in the UK?

    In the UK alone, we use over 12.5 million tonnes of paper annually. This is because it’s used across various businesses, from factories to offices. While studies estimate that around 80% of this waste is recycled, there’s still room for improvement. Approximately seven million tonnes of paper are sent to landfill each year.

  • PAPER Is all paper recyclable?

    Three types of paper can be recycled. This includes:

    • Mill broke paper – the scraps or trimmings that break away when the paper is first manufactured. This is often recycled internally.
    • Pre-consumer waste – paper that has been thrown away or discarded before being used by the consumer. This could include magazines or newspapers that were printed but never sold.
    • Post-consumer waste – paper that’s thrown away after being used.

    The vast majority of paper is recyclable. The only exceptions to this rule are paper products that have been covered in other materials such as wax, plastic, or foil. It could also include paper items that have been contaminated by food. Examples of non-recyclable paper include paper plates or metallic wrapping paper.

  • PAPER What are the uses for shredded paper?

    Many businesses prefer to shred their paper waste ahead of disposal. This is because the waste may contain confidential or sensitive information, such as personal addresses and banking details. However, you don’t necessarily have to throw away shredded paper immediately. Alternative uses for shredded paper include:

    • Kindling for fires or BBQs
    • Composting
    • Gardening
    • Arts and crafts
    • Cat litter
    • Packaging


  • PAPER Can you recycle shredded paper?

    Shredded paper can be recycled, but it’s a little trickier than disposing of the paper outright. This is because the small pieces can sometimes get stuck in the machinery, making it harder for the pulp to be created. You can put shredded paper in a recycling bin, but it’s helpful to first separate it from the rest of your paper waste – whether you use a separate container or a waste bag.

  • PAPER Is wrapping paper recyclable?

    Regular or glossy wrapping paper is completely recyclable and can be disposed of in your regular recycling bin. However, it would help if you took care to ensure all sellotape is removed ahead of time, as this could further complicate the recycling process.

    Read our guide to wrapping paper disposal and recycling

  • PAPER What are some uses for used wrapping paper?

    Some forms of wrapping paper are non-recyclable, particularly if they’re metallic or contain glitter. To avoid sending excessive amounts of waste wrapping paper to landfill, you should first think about how you could reuse the paper. This could include:

    • Arts and crafts
    • Creating party decorations, such as bunting
    • Colourful lining for bookshelves and drawers
    • Making placemats or coasters
  • PAPER Can you compost paper?

    Composting is a great way to reuse paper instead of disposing of it outright. This is because the addition of paper to a compost heap can help the soil retain water or increase its volume. It’s also a great source of carbon, which helps speed up the breakdown of organic matter. Find out more about the values of composting within your business.

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  • Any type of paper
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  • We cover all of the UK