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Confused about recycling? Below, DS Smith answers your questions on what can and can’t be recycled

Perhaps now more than ever recycling is firmly on the agendas of governments, organisations, and consumers. Recently we have seen the rise of a new environmental consciousness, spearheaded by the likes of Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough – in fact, environmental concerns have never been so front of mind.

If 2019 was the dawning of a new consciousness, then 2020 is the year of action – with more and more of us motivated to act more sustainably in our day to day lives.

Whether it’s in the bathroom, the kitchen, the office or the great outdoors, simple acts to recycle more can add up to make a real difference to how we better sustainably manage our planet's scarce resources.

However, there still exists wide spread confusion on how best to recycle. At DS Smith, we manage over 5.5 million tonnes of material every year, so as one of the leading integrated packaging and recycling companies in Europe, we’ve put our expertise to good use.

To help ensure that paper fibres that should be recycled are recycled, we’ve looked at some of your most searched for questions surrounding paper recycling and shared some top hacks and information on how you can recycle more.

How can I recycle more at home?

Discover some dos and don’ts of recycling. We dropped in on our European Strategic Development Director, Tom Campbell-White, to find out how he recycles in the home. Check out some of his top tips for reducing waste:

Tom’s Top Tips

 Can you recycle wrapping paper?

Sometimes. Non-paper gift wrap, such as foil-based wrapping paper or bags, cannot be recycled. The best way of checking if your wrapping paper can be recycled is to scrunch it; if it springs back when you scrunch it, it’s not recyclable.

Check out some more of our top tips for recycling wrapping paper.

Can you recycle tissues?

No. tissues, paper towels, or kitchen roll cannot be recycled once used – mainly for hygiene reasons.

Can you recycle takeaway cups?

Yes. Hot drink paper cups, such as coffee can be recycled, but due to their plastic lining they need to be collected separately from other paper recycling streams. Always look out for separate coffee cup recycling bins.

Find out about the work we are doing with coffee cup recycling.

Can you recycle pizza boxes?

Yes. Pizza boxes are 100% recyclable even when greasy, as long as there is no food left in them and they aren’t heavily soiled. The best way of ensuring your pizza box can be recycled is to remove any crusts, leftover food, and soak up any excess oil.

Can you recycle magazines?

Yes. Magazines can go in your regular paper recycling streams.  Although it’s useful to remove any plastic wrapping and other non-paper products that may be attached to them.

Can greeting cards be recycled?

Yes, as long as they are not covered in glitter or other non-paper materials.

Can you recycle books?

Firstly, consider ways to reuse the book, such as donating it to your local school or library, passing them onto a friend, or selling them at a car boot sale. If not, paperback books are commonly accepted as recyclable, although hardback books can be a bit trickier as the covers may include leather, plastic, glue and string – so look to remove the cover if you can.


If you’re interested in hearing more about what we’re doing with coffee cup recycling, provide your details here.

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