Ultimate Guide To Recycling Envelopes
Are envelopes recyclable?
Yes, most envelopes can be recycled. The type of envelope you have will determine how to recycle and also the area you live in can affect too as different local authorities have differing facilities.
For the most part paper envelopes can be recycled in your household kerbside collection, while other envelopes such as bubble bags and poly mailers should be taken to a supermarket recycling point, or in some cases may be non-recyclable.
Our 'How To Recycle Envelopes' flow chart is an easy and quick way to see how and where to recycle all types of envelope (including bubble bags, Jiffy bags and poly mailers).
Click here to open and download our handy guide.
Why should I recycle envelopes?
Recycling is important. Lifestyle changes in modern times have resulted in a huge amount of rubbish and waste, causing a massive negative impact on the environment.
Landfill sites take up space and give off dangerous gasses leading to pollution and much of the waste takes many years to decompose, endangering wildlife and polluting oceans.
By recycling we can decrease the number of landfill sites and preserve natural resources for future generations. Using recycled materials also requires much less energy than manufacturing with unprocessed materials. Recycling paper saves around 60% of the energy needed compared to using raw materials!
Can I put envelopes in my household recycling?
This depends on the facilities of your particular local authority, but most areas do accept paper envelopes in the household recycling collections, so for the majority of the UK the answer is yes. A few UK councils are unable to offer this service kerbside and this is because they may not have the equipment to screen out the adhesive glue on envelopes. If this is the case, you can instead take to your nearest paper bank. Or alternatively you can tear off the flap and pop the remaining paper into your recycling!
The great news is that recycling facilities and services are continuously improving, so we predict that soon all types of envelope will be recyclable from every household kerbside service.
Check your local authority household recycling rules via www.gov.uk/recycling-collections
Can you recycle envelopes with plastic windows?
If your envelope has a plastic address window it CAN still be recycled. Modern recycling machinery is well equipped to handle this with heating elements that melt adhesives and screen out the plastic windows.
If your household paper recycling accepts envelopes, you do not need to remove the address window - just pop the whole envelope into your paper recycling.
If your local authority is one of the few that does not accept envelopes in your kerbside paper recycling, you can instead take to a local recycling centre. Alternatively you can tear out the address window (plus any other areas with adhesive on, such as the flap) and pop the paper parts into your household recycling.
Can you recycle envelopes with stamps?
Yes. In the same way that recycling machinery can screen out address windows, it will also handle stamps on envelopes. As before, providing your household kerbside recycling accepts envelopes (most of which do), then you can put the whole envelope into your paper recycling at home.
You can check whether your local authority accepts envelopes in your household recycling via www.gov.uk/recycling-collections
Can you recycle envelopes with adhesive glue strip on the flap?
If your household paper recycling can accept envelopes, you do not need to worry about the glue strip on the flap of envelopes as the recycling machinery will melt this away in the screening process.
If your local authority specifies you cannot put envelopes in your household paper recycling (you can check this via www.gov.uk/recycling-collections) you can simply tear off the area of the envelope with the adhesive glue on.
Alternatively you can pop the whole envelope into the paper recycling at your local recycling centre. Find your nearest recycling centre via the Recycle Now website www.recyclenow.com
Are padded envelopes and bubble bags recyclable?
Some are, yes. Recycling padded envelopes depends on the material it is constructed of. Colourful plastic bubble wrap lined envelopes, like our gloss bubble bags, can be recycled in most areas. You cannot usually do this in your household/kerbside recycling, but head to your local Asda or Sainsbury's supermarket and pop them in the carrier bag collection point!
Padded envelopes with shredded paper/card inner can be recycled in your standard paper kerbside box. Any ‘mixed material’ padded envelopes cannot be recycled unfortunately. This applies to ‘Jiffy Bag’ style envelopes with paper outer and plastic bubble wrap inner, and metallic padded envelopes with foil outer and bubble wrap inner. If you open carefully, you could instead re-use the envelope?
Where can I recycle plastic bubble mailers?
We're pleased to advise that our Gloss Padded Bubble Bag range is recyclable! While most kerbside household recycling cannot yet facilitate, your local supermarket will happily recycle for you - just pop them into the carrier bag collection point in store at any Asda or Sainsbury's. You can also recycle bubble wrap there too!
Morrisons, Tesco and Co-operative also offer this recycling service, but have asked that you check with your local store to be certain they can accept, as recycling facilities in some areas can vary.
What do the different recycling logos mean?
Recycling symbols appear on lots of product labels and items, but do you know what they all mean? For example the mobius loop is the mostly widely recognisable symbol associated with recycling, but did you know it has no official meaning. It is often used to indicate that a product is recyclable (rather than made of recycled materials), but there are no regulations to it's use. Click here to find out more about the various recycling logos.