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Let’s face it, we’ve all found ourselves holding a piece of rubbish and been unsure which bin to put it in. Is it rubbish? Can it be recycled? Will it contaminate things? These are just some of the questions you might have found yourself asking.

This week at Paper Round HQ, we’ve introduced a new bin: ‘the confused.bin;’ if staff don’t know which bin to put their piece of waste in, they pop it in this one. On Friday, our MD, Bill Swan, will be digging through the contents and giving us the definitive answer on which bits of waste can and can’t be recycled.

Some things that have cropped up so far are:

  1. Bubble wrap
  2. Crisp wrappers
  3. Used pens

Next week we’ll be letting you know the results, but in the mean time, here’s a couple of questions we often get when people are confused:

Why can’t paper ream wrappers be recycled?

One thing we often find in our clients’ recycling bins is ream wrappers. These pesky things can’t actually be recycled because they have something known as ‘wet strength’. When paper is recycled, it is soaked to be turned into pulp. The wet strength from ream wrappers, whilst perfect for protecting our Image bright white office paper, means that it can’t be recycled because it doesn’t break down when soaked.

Why should I separate my materials, aren’t there machines for that?

In many modern offices, it’s common to have two main bins: mixed recycling and general waste. In reality, after you’ve had lunch and you stick your coffee cup in the mixed recycling bin, or your sandwich wrapper from that lovely coronation chicken sandwich, you run the risk of contaminating your recycling. Once paper has been covered in food or stained with liquids, it’s unable to be recycled to the same quality. Whilst machines are used to separate cans and plastics, paper is sorted by hand back at our depot in Purfleet. By reducing contamination we improve the quality of the paper we recycle which is why we prefer it to be kept separate from other recyclables.

Emily Morrey-McGrath


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