Dispose of Paper and Boxes Right

Paper is the most recycled material in the U.S. You can recycle many types of mixed paper, boxboard and cardboard 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. 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. Flatten cardboard. 



  • 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 (no food or excess grease)
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Frozen food boxes (new addition to accepted list as 03/11/2022)


  • Wet or soiled paper and boxes. Avoid getting paper and cardboard wet, as it significantly reduces its recyclability. Empty all cartonsplastic bottles and jugs and glass bottles and jars, 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.
  • Tissue wrapping or crepe paper. This type of paper is too light to be sorted properly at the mixed recycling MRF. Undecorated tissue wrapping paper can be recycled at designated mixed paper recycling drop-off bin.
  • Register receipts and printed lottery tickets. Because of the plastic coating, receipts cannot be recycled. Thermal receipts do not pulp the same as other paper and should be placed in the trash.
  • 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.
  • Bundled paper. Items should be loose and not tied with string or twine, or nested together. Loose materials are sorted properly at the MRF. String and twine is a tangler.
  • 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 Integrity Fiber. 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.

Mixed Paper Drop-Offs

Mixed paper, phone books, 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. See a list of Metroparks locations on our Cardboard page. Royal Oak Recycling (Paper Retriever bins) and Integrity Fiber (fka. River Valley Paper Company) do not provide a regularly-updated list of their locations to the Solid Waste District. Check with your city service department to see if they have a list of locations for mixed paper bins in your community.


The Solid Waste District hosts a Royal Oak Recycling Paper Retriever bin. The mixed paper recycling bin, located in our parking lot at 4750 East 131 Street in Garfield Heights, accepts mixed paper, shredded paper, junk mail, magazines, office paper, phone books, boxboard, cartons (no caps/lids) and corrugated cardboard.


Be a good recycler. Rain and precipitation in the District's mixed paper collection bin makes the paper wet and can ruin recycling efforts. We appreciate recyclers that close the lid of the bin after they've placed paper or cardboard inside it. 


Why should I keep cardboard and paper dry?

When paper gets wet, it lowers the quality of the paper and its usefulness for recycling. Each time paper gets wet and dries out, the fibers become shorter, making the paper brittle, crumbly and less valuable to recyclers.


Wet paper tends to get moldy quickly, which lowers its value as a recyclable commodity. Additionally, wet paper is difficult to sort at the materials recovery facility (MRF) where your curbside recyclables are sorted and baled. The machines that sort paper are designed to handle dry, lightweight materials. Heavy, wet paper may jam equipment and not get properly sorted causing it to be thrown away. If it can't be contained in an enclosed cart, it's recommended that residents only put paper and cardboard out on a dry day. 


The Solid Waste District's phone book recycling program in the Cleveland Metroparks was eliminated in 2013.

Businesses with large quantities of mixed paper can contact local paper recycling companies for service information. For business locations, see the list of options below.



Looking to recycle, donate or dispose of other items? Use the dark blue 'What Do I Do With?' search bar at the top of every page of this website. Allow location services or use the city drop-down to find opportunities in your local area.