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Exciting news about cereal boxes, paper towel rolls and junk mail!

Mixed waste paper returns to curbside recycling, beginning September 1!

Great news for everyone who recycles. Your red-lid curbside roll cart is about to get a lot more use. Beginning September 1, 2023, many common household items made from paper can be tossed into your recycling carts. That means your paper egg cartons, shoe boxes, file folders and cereal boxes (minus the plastic liners) can all go into the commingled cart.

Why the change?

The reason for the change is simple. We promised you that we would add recyclable materials back — like mixed waste paper — as soon as there was a stable recycling market. And now there is. In fact, waste haulers throughout southern Oregon will be introducing mixed waste paper to the list of acceptable recyclables in the coming weeks. This greatly increases the number of items you can put in your roll cart for recycling.

What is mixed waste paper?

Your house or workplace is likely filled with different types of mixed waste paper. This includes everything from junk mail, paperboard packaging and wrapping paper to cracker boxes, paper bags, construction paper and envelopes. In fact, mixed waste paper makes up the largest portion of municipal solid waste — which means it also offers the best opportunity for recycling. It’s called “mixed” waste paper because it can include a variety of different grades of paper. Here is a list of some of the most common types of mixed waste paper acceptable for recycling:

  • Cereal and cracker boxes (remove the plastic liners)
  • Egg cartons (paper only, no Styrofoam or plastic)
  • Envelopes (with or without windows)
  • File folders
  • Greeting cards
  • Index cards
  • Junk mail
  • Magazines
  • Office paper
  • Paperback books
  • Paper bags
  • Pasta and rice boxes
  • Phone books
  • Pizza boxes (no grease, food residue or liners)
  • Post-It notes
  • Scrap paper
  • Shoe boxes
  • Shredded paper (in paper bag to eliminate scatter)
  • Soda/Beverage boxes
  • Tissue boxes
  • Toilet paper and paper towel tubes
  • Wrapping paper (no foil, plastic wrap or tissue paper)

A quick note about pizza boxes

For years, pizza boxes have been a no-go for recycling. The reason? They often have leftover bits of melted cheese and other food items — along with grease — contaminating the box. But with pizza restaurants adding a layer of waxed paper between the pizza and the box, and consumers doing a much more vigilant job of keeping the recycling stream clean, it’s now OK to put food-and-grease-free pizza boxes in your recycling cart. Just make sure the waxed paper insert goes in the trash, along with any food remains.

Frozen and refrigerated food boxes and cartons go in the trash

While they might seem like they’re made from paper fiber, the boxes and cartons designed for refrigerated and frozen foods actually contain plastic (and sometimes aluminum) — to be able to hold cold and/or liquid foods and keep them from spoiling. This includes everything from frozen waffle boxes, ice cream cartons and frozen meal boxes to milk and juice cartons. Unfortunately, these can’t be recycled at this time and should go into your trash.

Paper that still CAN’T go in your recycling cart

Even though the list of mixed waste paper recyclable items is extensive, there are still plenty of items that can’t be recycled and will contaminate the other items in your roll cart. This includes:

  • Candy wrappers
  • Foil and foil paper
  • Food-contaminated paper
  • Frozen and refrigerated food boxes and cartons
  • Paper cups and plates
  • Paper napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Paper ream wrappers
  • Pet food bags
  • Photographs
  • Plastic wrap or bags
  • Receipts
  • Ribbon
  • Snack food bags
  • Stickers
  • Tissue paper
  • Toilet paper
  • Waxed paper

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