Paper & Boxes

Paper & Boxes

05/01/2020: See the list of mixed paper recycling bins in Cleveland.

is the most recycled material in the U.S. You can recycle many types of mixed paper (paper & boxes) in your curbside recycling.

Mixed paper should be placed loose in a curbside recycling cart or bin. If you must use bags to hold your recycling, choose brown kraft bags instead of plastic bags. Flatten cardboard. When setting mixed paper and boxes at the curb for recycling, make sure it's empty, clean, dry and out of the rain or weather.

Mixed paper, boxboard and soft cover books can also be dropped off at a paper recycling bin, typically found in school or municipal parking lots, nonprofits, places of worship and in the Cleveland Metroparks. Paper Retriever and River Valley Paper Company do not provide a list of their locations to the Solid Waste District. Check with your city service department to see if they have an up-to-date list of paper bins in your municipality.

[video] Learn more about recycling paper and boxes.
Newspapers and inserts
Magazines and catalogs
Junk mail and envelopes (window envelopes are okay)
Postcards, greeting cards, coupon packets
Phone books
Paper grocery bags
Cereal and dry food boxes, shoe boxes, toothpaste or OTC medicine boxes
Paper tubes and tissue boxes from paper products
Office paper, stationery, business cards, any color
Hard (cover removed) or soft cover books
Wrapping paper (including the cardboard tube)
Cardboard (flattened)
Paper shopping bags
Clean pizza boxes (free of food and excess grease)
Paper egg cartons

  • Paper cups. Paper cups have a thin layer of plastic coating on them to protect them from condensation. The plastic coating sprayed on paper cups makes the paperboard underneath impossible to recycle in the standard pulp process because the container will not break apart during recycling.
  • Frozen food boxes. Frozen food boxes and freezer cartons have a thin layer of plastic coating on them to preserve them from condensation. The plastic coating sprayed on the frozen food boxes makes the paperboard underneath impossible to recycle in the standard pulp process because the container will not break apart during recycling.
  • Wet or soiled paper and boxes. Avoid getting paper and cardboard wet, as it significantly reduces its recyclability. Empty all bottles and jugs and replace the cap before tossing them in your cart or bin so they don't drain on your paper.
  • Napkins, tissues and paper towels. Do not include items used for bodily fluids or food.
  • Food or candy wrappers. Wrappers are typically made of multiple materials. Bits of plastic, aluminum and paper are mixed together, making it difficult and expensive to recover.
  • Photographs. Cannot be recycled due to chemical coatings used in the photo developing process.
  • Shredded paper. Shredded paper is too small to make it through the sorting system at the recycling plant. It's best to take shredded paper to a mixed paper drop off bin operated by Paper Retriever or River Valley Paper Company. Typically, paper recycling bins are located in the parking lots of schools, places of worship and other nonprofits. Use a paper bag (not plastic) to hold your shredded paper.
  • Foil, ribbon, glitter, rope, fabric or other decorations. These materials on cards, gift bags or wrapping paper contaminate the recycling process.

Apartment and condominium dwellers can recycle too. See if your community has a drop off for mixed paper and boxes.

Businesses with large quantities of mixed paper can contact local paper recycling companies for service information. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.

Paper and boxes can be donated to local community service organizations that use the materials to support their work. See a list of donation opportunities below. 

Donation Locations