How can I reuse or recycle … printer paper?

Reams of paperThis is another of those that I can’t believe we haven’t thought about yet: printer/photocopier paper.

It can, obviously, be recycled: as far as I know, most doorstep recycling schemes offer paper recycling and in all the places I’ve worked, there has been a green bin in the office for at least recycling white paper products, if not all different types like brown envelopes and newspaper.

However, I know not all offices are so green-focused without prompting – does anyone have any good strategies for getting employers to starting caring about this type of thing? Or know of any companies that offer recycling services to business?

And what about ideas for reuse? If something had only had printing on one side, I would either use the other side for printing drafts or make the blank side into scrap notepads (held together at the top with a bulldog clip). But what about other suggestions for reuses, including for when both sides have been printed on? And what confidential matter that can’t spend the next three months on the back of a notepad?

(Oh, and we got mentioned in the Guardian yesterday – if you’re here after reading that mini-article, hello! And if you want to know how to recycle said copy of the Guardian, we’ve plenty of ideas for recycling and reusing old newspapers.)

Related Categories

household, items, office, paper & stationery

Search for other related items

18 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … printer paper?”

  1. yogahz says:

    You can use any old paper to make new paper. Just add a blender and water! (and a screen and possibly coloring and little pieces of thread or leaves for interest).

  2. Thad says:

    Do you have a pet that needs bedding and a shredder? Then, make some bedding for your pet. It should be safe for most animals (I used to do it for guinea pigs and rats).

  3. Rosalind says:

    Shredded stuff can also be used for packing – is there a local business person or ebayer who sends out fragile stuff on a small scale? Better than polystyrene peanuts. Also I second Thad’s thought about pets – some pets are allergic to straw, sawdust etc. My sister’s vet is allergic to straw (wrong profession..?) so if you, your vet or your kids are allergic then this is your answer. (My first post – I saw the Guardian mini-article!)

  4. ott says:

    Paper Mache: Make art, masks, fruit bowls, piñatas. Make it a rainy weekend project with the little ones.

  5. Shred it and add it to the compost bin.

    If you have lots and lots of it, use it as a mulch in the garden.

  6. Adan Nouveau says:

    Even better – Give it to a school in need — Schools and grassroots ALWAYS need office supplies! It is going to the best cause i know of!

  7. Cathleen says:

    A friend suggested I use my bags of shredded papers to insulate the garage. The shreddings are in large plastic bags… all I have to do is staple the bags up into the rafters. It doesn’t have to be pretty, just functional. But I’ll figure out some way to make it look pretty, too.

    Great website. I’m on the other west coast… in Oregon, along the Pacific Ocean. Thanks for the neat ideas. :)

  8. Lesley says:

    A local author uses the old drafts of her novels to make decorative boxes topped with origami shapes – very good for small gifts.

  9. Jagger says:

    I’d suggest anything rather than mainstream recycling.

    Bedding for animals, giving it to someone with a pet, insulation (Although if you’re insulating to save money, use fibreglass), origami, anything others have mentioned really.

    Always re-use, refill, or recycle yourself, it’s better that way.

  10. ane vegane says:

    i always reuse all paper that is just printed on one page, writing letters, making cd inlays, and about eveyrthing, notebooks, wrapping all sorts of things. i keep it in a drawer in my room so i always have somethingto write on. all things you write for whatever can be written on back of used paper. well almost anything

    what to do with the paper printed on both sides is a bit harder.. making new paper is good, either do it yourself or recycle it in your local recycle program (if there is any.)

  11. carrie says:

    i make sketchpads, doodle pads, journals, notebooks, coloring books, and crossword books out of paper that’s been printed on one side. 3-hole punch it, add hole-punched cardboard covers, and bind with zip ties through the holes. i call it “hobo notebooks,” LOL.

  12. carrie says:

    sometimes i put a ream in a cereal box decorated with a preschooler’s name, attach a little box of crayons, and give to my always-bored nieces and nephews as drawing kits when they come to visit.

  13. carrie says:

    i also make myself books using the above binding technique. i’m constantly printing ideas and things from the internet. i’ve made myself address books, scrapooking layout idea books, color scheme books, recipe books, etc. yep, lots of hobo books around my house. :)

  14. Estelle says:

    I collected a box of A4 paper, printed on one side only (and put all the sheets with the used-side down). I took it to my local print/photocopy shop and asked them to make notebooks with it for me. For a small fee, they trimmed them to A5 and attached them to a piece of cardboard, with a strip of glue at the top. I use them as notebooks in my work every day, creating to-do lists and so on. You have to detach each sheet, tearing it out from the strip of glue at the top, when you need it. You can ask the printshop to trim the notebooks to bigger or smaller sizes, according to what you need.

  15. Stephen says:

    You all have some very good ideas. I was just searching the internet looking for anything. I work for a police dispatch and we go through 500-1000 sheets of paper per day. A lot ends up shredded, and some filed. I bothers me a lot to think about all the paper we use. We can’t really use the backside of paper for notepads because it contains private information most of the time.
    I’m not sure what all we can do. Even what’s shred keeps getting thrown in with the regular trash. :(
    I’m not great at this environment stuff, but I do recognize when something is excess. There has to be some way to cutting back on using so much paper per day!

  16. Ruti says:

    If it does not have confidential or inappropriate info on it, I often take stuff to our on site nursery for drawing paper,as this also saves them money.

  17. eudaemon says:

    Well, the tiniest wrinkle can cause a jam, but I would be more worried about cleanliness. If you are using laser copying machines and printers which use toner cartridges , the old toner that is already on the paper can build up on the internal parts of the units, especially the fuser. this can lead to more jamming if enough builds up, but more then likely will just end up putting shadow images on the backsides of your printout. I’ve rebuilt hundreds of printers so I’ve seen the damage first hand…also reused paper can scratch the surface of the imaging drum and leave permanent lines for the rest of the cartridge’s useage period.

    It is OK to do once in awhile, but I wouldn’t go overboard with doing hundreds of reused sheets at a time, and definitely don’t reuse sheets that have a lot of toner on the surface.

    On the other hand, ink printers printers can usually handle reusing paper as well, but again over time the ink will build up on the rollers inside and leave shadow images on new printouts.

  18. Olia says:

    Art studios can use it for paper sculptures.

Leave a Reply

Your name
Your email (it will not be published. If you want people to contact you, leave your email address in the message too.)
Your website (if you've got one)