Can plastic coated paper be recycled?

Nowadays, we are all quite aware of the importance of recycling, as we are subjected to a lot of television ads, or in magazines and on the Internet, telling us that we should recycle and how to do it. But the truth is that when we are in front of the containers, we hesitate, and we do not know what should go in each one of them. The difficulty arises when we do not know the exact composition of what we have in our hands. To give an example, which concerns our company, in this post, we want to talk about the plasticized paper we use as a food wrapping.

Laminated paper is above all paper

Plasticized paper is composed of 80% paper and 20% plastic. According to the company that manages the recycling of packaging in Spain, it is necessary to throw it in the blue bin to recycle paper and cardboard. They can then easily recycle it by converting all this material back into cellulose pulp through chemical or mechanical means.

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They do this with a machine called a pulper in which water is mixed with the pulp from all the recovered material. The pulper is like a big mixer with a propeller whose mission is to separate the fibers that form the pulp.

Why some paper cannot be recycled

In reality, when we talk about recycling paper, we are referring to cellulose. That is, the main material that makes up the paper is extracted from the wood of trees. However, for this cellulose to be recycled, it must be in an acceptable condition. This means that if it is paper or cardboard that has undergone certain chemical treatments or has simply been stained with dirt that cannot be removed, the paper in question is unusable for recycling.

What kind of paper cannot be recycled

Thus, paper or cardboard that cannot be recycled is paper or cardboard that contains more than what we would call purely “paper”. In some cases, it may not be all paper. In this case, the best thing to do is to remove the “contaminated” part of the paper and discard it, while the part that is in good condition should be taken to the blue garbage can.

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Some examples of paper that cannot be recycled are the following:

Toilet or sanitary paper

This type of paper is usually stained with fluids that cannot be removed without destroying the cellulose itself, and consequently, it is impossible to recycle it. However, if we use toilet paper, for example, only to dry water, this paper can be recycled. This is because the water will evaporate without leaving any residue, so we will keep the toilet paper in good condition. Unfortunately, this happens very rarely, so the toilet or sanitary paper is one of the papers that would not be included in the list of papers to be recycled.

Waxed or paraffin-embossed paper

As in the previous case, this type of paper cannot be recycled because the waxing it contains makes it impossible to separate the cellulose from the wax. Because of this, it would also be among the types of paper that cannot be recycled.

Greaseproof paper or cardboard

It is usually found in the case of wrappings to carry beverages or food, for example, pizzas. This type of cardboard is contaminated by food grease and is impossible to recycle. However, as we have already mentioned, this only affects the part contaminated by grease. In the case of a pizza box, it would be possible to recycle the part that is not in contact with the grease, which is usually the top of the box in question.

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Carbonless paper, thermal fax paper, or photographic paper

In these cases, the problem remains the same even if it is not food grease. The problem is that this type of paper does not allow the cellulose to be separated from the additives that have been supplied for its manufacture, and, consequently, it is impossible for it to be recycled.