Reuse Your Reads

The Magazine Publishers of America want you to know that yes, you can and should recycle your magazines
. You see, apparently there is vast confusion about the whether or not the glossy pages of People or Prevention can be recycled the same as regular paper, and the MPA is here to clear it all up:

Why is MPA sponsoring a campaign to recycle magazines?

MPA has determined that on a nation-wide basis, there is ample capacity to accept magazines within household waste recycling programs. Most domestic curbside and drop-off recycling programs now accept magazines as well as a wide variety of other materials (e.g., catalogs, direct mail, phone books), yet awareness of this capacity and participation in these programs has lagged in many communities. Therefore, MPA believes that it is appropriate to launch a campaign to raise awareness and stimulate more widespread and consistent participation in magazine recycling activity wherever it is feasible. Today only about 20 percent of magazines are recycled from the home, even though at least two-thirds of the population has access to magazine recycling in their community. Increasing magazine recycling will reduce the amount of new fiber that must be obtained from wood, meaning that fewer trees can be harvested to produce a given quantity of paper or board product.

Are there other facets of magazine publishing that can make it harder to recycle magazines?

Several specific types of adhesives can be problematic because they tend to form very small particles (called “stickies”) that adhere to production equipment and are difficult to remove through the screening and other physical processing methods employed in pulp mills.  Polyvinyl acetate (PVA), acrylic polymers, polystyrene polymers (such as styrene butadiene rubber), and hot melt adhesives (thermoplastics) are of particular concern.  Water-soluble substitutes that make use of starch, dextrins, gums, and cellulose (polycel) can often accomplish the same functions and offer suitable performance characteristics, while not interfering with downstream paper fiber recovery operations.

Certain ink formulations and colors can pose problems because they are difficult to break up and remove in the repulping process.  In particular, certain bright red, orange, and “day-glow” types of inks reportedly are difficult to remove from repulped recovered paper.

What will happen to the old magazines that are recycled?

Old magazines and similar materials that are currently recycled are used to make newsprint, tissue, paper/box board, and even writing and printing paper.  Old magazines (and catalogs) are useful to producers of recycled-content newsprint, as they help to deink (remove ink) from recovered newspaper.  They also contain fiber and clay coatings that can impart improved brightness and a smoother texture to certain components of multi-ply box and liner board.


So, once you’ve rung that Make magazine dry, take it on out to the recycling bin along with your milk jugs and junk mail. Or, perhaps you could make yourself a handbag. Or use cut outs from attractive pages as gift wrapping. Or use stacks of old rags to make yourself an handy dandy box for storage. Or a collage for the kiddies. Or line your dresser drawers with perfume samples then use the rest of the read as a boot saver. The possibilities are endless. See what these other crafty folks made out of old magazines:

Do you recycle your old magazines? Donate them? Hoard them?

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Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.