Are Magazines Recyclable?

temmuzcan/iStock via Getty Images
temmuzcan/iStock via Getty Images / temmuzcan/iStock via Getty Images

The U.S. produces hundreds of millions of tons of waste each year, and that includes many materials that could easily be recycled. When it isn't clear if an item can be salvaged, some people opt to throw it away even if there's a recycling bin close by. Old magazines often end up in the trash, but this shouldn't been the case. Though they're treated with certain additives, glossy magazine pages can be recycled along with your regular paper products.

According to Treehugger, glossy catalogs and magazines consist of coated paper. After regular paper is made from wood fiber, it gets a shiny coat from a special additive like fine clay. The clay seeps into the spaces between the wood fibers and creates a smooth, even surface. Because these types of coatings are natural, most magazines can be recycled as they are. The pages will be stripped of their gloss at the recycling plant—along with their ink—and combined with fresh wood pulp to be made into new products.

When recycling old magazines, there are a few things to keep in mind. The plastic sleeve some periodicals come in and any perfume or makeup samples that may be inside can't be reused and should be removed. Though most magazines are coated with natural materials, some are coated with a type of plastic called polyethylene (PE). PE-coated paper can't be recycled and should be thrown out. To see if a page has PE coating, try tearing it; pages that tear easily contain natural gloss and are recyclable, while pages that are difficult to rip are not. Paper that doesn't stay crumpled when you crush it in your hand likely has also been treated with plastic.

Once you've determined your magazines and catalogs are ready for the recycling plant, you can dispose of them with the rest of your newspapers, junk mail, and other paper products. Your dusty magazines aren't the only paper recyclables in your home you may be neglecting. Here's the best way to recycle cardboard pizza boxes.

[h/t Treehugger]