sorting the recycling – paper and cardboard

Getting familiar with sorting your recycling can seem super overwhelming. I’m getting to know the four main categories of recycling, the first being paper and cardboard. Essentially, the aim of going zero waste is to avoid putting anything into the bin or recycling, but there are things we tend to rely on that need to be recycled. Just do it the right way.

Paper + cardboard

Amazing fact: paper that is made from recycled material uses up to 50% less energy, and 90% less water than paper made from raw materials. By recycling your paper and cardboard, you’ll reduce around 3 cubic metres of waste going into landfill, saving energy and conserving raw materials. The main things to know with paper and cardboard recycling are listed below:

1. Empty and lightly clean your paper or cardboard items. This includes removing food scraps from pizza boxes and other paper or cardboard food packaging.

2. You can’t recycle materials that are connected, even if all those materials are recyclable. So make sure to seperate your papers and cardboard. For example, if you have a plastic package with a paper insert, or bubble wrap, make sure you seperate them.

3. Break down your cardboard boxes, it apparently makes them easier to recycle.

4. Don’t bag your paper and cardboard, place them loosely in the bin.

What kinds of paper can be recycled

What you can:

What you can’t:

Hot tip: if you can’t remember all this stuff (which I certainly can’t), then write it all down and pin it up near your indoor recycling bin as a reminder.

Paper and cardboard list on our wall above our recycling

What happens to the paper

According to Sustainability Victoria, paper is broken down into a pulp and re-used. This can include office paper, toilet paper, packaging and egg cartons. Paper can be recycled up to eight times before it’s turned into organic waste and breaks down properly!

Reduce paper + cardboard use

One of the biggest influxes of paper into our house was stupid junk mail (which I hate and never read); I used to take it straight from the mailbox, turn 180 degrees and throw it in the recycling bin without thought. This one is super easy to avoid, if you don’t already have a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker on your mailbox, then I strongly recommend getting your own. I’m sure you could find the offical ones at the post office, but I just used some pink tape and a permanent market to make mine.

My DIY no junk mail sticker

Reducing your paper waste is pretty straight forward, there are small steps you can take to reduce the amount of paper and cardboard you use. Be sensible with your printing at work, buy less foods with paper packaging, and avoid buying from stores online that don’t use paper or cardboard packaging.


For Sustainability Victoria on paper and cardboard, head to https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/You-and-your-home/Waste-and-recycling/Recycling/How-recycling-works


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