This week, we take a look at what mail you can recycle, starting with …

Advertising mail

In general, most advertising mail pieces are recyclable. If the flyer, letter, envelope or other pieces are made from regular paper are printed on cardstock or even on thinner paperboard, you can recycle them. Some pieces that have foil or plastic coatings cannot be recycled. If they have sticker tabs on them to keep the paper folded in half, it’s always best to remove the stickers, but they can go in the bin. Also, if your advertising mail contains plastic such as fake credit cards, sample return address labels or sensitive information, those items cannot be recycled.

Envelopes with address windows

Yes. Things are generally rejected for recycling when they are either contaminated with something that is itself not recyclable (such as food waste or grease) or it is attached to something that is incompatible with it and too heavy to remove later. The window inserts are glassine that cannot itself be recycled, so it’s always best to remove them before recycling the envelope. In this case, the window is very light, so it does not add too much to the weight of the paper with which it will be mixed in your bin, and it is easily removed, along with things like staples and paper clips, when the paper is turned into liquid pulp for re-use. So removal is encouraged, but not required.

Paper padded envelopes

If the padded envelope is padded with what looks like shredded newsprint, you can toss the whole thing in your recycling bin. If the envelope is padded with bubble wrap or plastic, the envelope cannot be recycled unless you separate the plastic from the paper envelope. The plastic can usually be returned where you would take your plastic bags. Some padded envelopes are tricky. The paper could have a special coating, or it could actually be plastic and not paper. So, we also recommend checking for a How2Recycle label that’s usually on the envelope.

Catalogs and magazines

If the catalog or magazine came in a plastic wrapper, take off the wrapper first and then after you read it, you can put the entire magazine in the recycling bin. Binding, staples, perfume samples, cardstock ads and all. What doesn’t belong is usually sorted out at the paper recycling facility or in the pulping process. The plastic wrapper can go with other sheet plastics (usually to the grocery store) Newspapers (advertisements, local or national papers):

Most households receive a newspaper each day. Some neighborhoods also publish a regular newsletter with coupons and such that is printed on newsprint paper. Whether it’s newsprint or even a glossy paper coupon, it can go in your recycling bin!

For more information, see the American Forest and Paper Association at

The Recycle Bin is a weekly column on what to recycle, what not to recycle, and why, in Brunswick. The public is encouraged to submit questions by email to [email protected]. Harry Hopcroft is a member of the Brunswick Recycling and Sustainability Committee. 

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