Can you get money for recycling paper?

In this brief discussion we will answer the question “can you make money from recycling paper?” and know the current consumption and production of papers to meet the daily requirement. We will further discuss the type of paper that is recyclable and how to make some money with its recycling. On a final note, we will discuss several advantages of recycling papers and why it is an important step towards the betterment of our environment.

How much paper is produced and used in the world?

Paper has become a necessity even in the digital era when companies are voting for going paperless. Though this has reduced paper consumption in one sector, the packaging industry has equally increased its consumption making paper one of the important entities for any business. 

The worldwide production of paper is around 400 metric tons with China being the largest producer of paper accounting 108.5 metric tons followed by the United States and Japan. This huge production of paper itself speaks for its usage worldwide. However, the projected consumption for paper is around 422 metric tons where the use of recycled paper also marks a significant difference.

Can we recycle all types of paper?

Since paper is obtained from renewable sources its recycling is very much needed. Of all the recycling material, paper has the most recycling rate where 20% of the municipal wastes containing papers are recycled every year. Almost all types of papers can be recycled with only a few falling under the non-recyclable category owing to its usage. 

The below lists separately gives a knowledge of which types of papers can be recycled and those that cannot be. 

Recyclable PapersNon-recyclable papers
Office papersToilet papers
Colored craft papersSanitary napkins
NewspapersPlastic treated papers
Magazines and phone booksPaper contaminated with food wastes
CardboardsTreated papers
Computer papersMagazines laminated with plastics

Most recycling centers do not accept papers that are contaminated with other materials and if it has biological waste then that will cause more harm if not discarded properly. The same goes for paper treated with glitters or plastics as these are impossible to separate before recycling. Hence, to answer your question – not all types of papers are recyclable, but most of them are such as the newspapers, magazines, craft papers etc.

Photo Courtesy: iStock. Piles of papers.

Can we get money for recycling paper?

Now, if you introduce a program where people can sell their waste products for money, it will encourage many to make their contribution towards recycling. However, don’t expect that you can make a living with the recycling of paper as you could get paid a maximum of $50 – $75 per ton of paper that means you will have to give 200,000 paper pages for recycling to get at least $50. 

But if you are considering going large scale, there are certain steps that you should take before considering making sufficient money from recycling. First of all you will need tons of paper and to start with that you need to have a good number of clients suchs the schools, offices, and other commercial locations where regular paper wastes are generated which can be recycled. 

Having proper transportation to collect the trash to the recycling center will take some finances from the money you gained.

Photo Courtesy: iStock. Cardboard for Recycling

What are the advantages of recycling papers?

Recycling truly makes an impact on our environment but a lot depends on how much actually gets recycled. Recyclable materials like glass and aluminum are effectively recycled with no downcycling which means you can recycle them a s much as you want without worrying about the non-biodegradability aspects. 

But when these end in landfill or trashed in open spaces it causes more damage than being useful. Recycling paper is a great step towards reducing the amount of paper that goes to landfill. Though paper degrades easily in open sapes or in compost, this process is very slow in landfill due to the anaerobic condition and lack of microorganisms that can biodegrade papers. 

With The huge number of papers ending in landfill, many toxic wastes are generated such as chlorine that can cause pollution. The recycling of papers helps reduce landfill wastes and air pollution caused by burning of papers. 

As discussed early, another advantage is that with proper planning and execution, you can make a business with recycling of paper. Recycling paper also adds to the prevention of our precious forest as it can save a huge number of trees that are cut to make paper.


In this short report we have discussed the topic “can you get money for recycling paper?” by knowing some statistics on paper production and consumption. We have further discussed the different types of papers and know if they are recyclable or not. We have highlighted the different ways you can earn money by recycling paper and some of the benefits of recycling papers.

Frequently asked question (FAQs): Can you get money for recycling paper?

Is paper worth recycling?

Paper and paper based products are completely recyclable and it is due to this recyclability that we can reduce the negative effect of paper making to some extent. Papers can be recycled upto 4 to 6 times after which the fivers get thin and cannot produce a quality paper. Recycling of papers uses old wasted papers which are otherwise dumped to the landfill. 

When these collected papers are again used to make papers, imagine the number of trees that can be prevented from cutting down. However, recycling could be effective if all papers that are wasted could go to the recycling center. In reality this is not the case. 

Either the type of paper is non-recyclable or people just don’t care to put it in the recycling bin. Because of these reasons, most paper and their products end up in landfill. 

How much is scrap paper worth?

Scrap pacers are of no use to anyone except for making another set of papers. This is huge considering the negative impacts of cutting down trees and use of water for making papers. Scrap pacers such as old newspapers, loose papers from books, receipts etc can be sold to the recycling center for about 21 cents per pound. 

However, if there is a huge demand for these scraps in the recycling centers the numbers can go up. The national average price for the scrap paper changed with 35.69 cents per pound in 2015 and 22 cents per pound in 2016. You can check with your local recycling centers for an updated price for the scrap papers. 

If you have a huge bundle of paper, there are agencies that can collect the scraps from our home. You don’t have to worry about discarding them. They will do it for you. Even in rural areas, trash collectors pay a minimal amount for the scrap papers while they make a living by selling these papers to the recycling center. 

What is the most profitable recycling?

Of the most recyclable materials aluminum is the one that gives a profitable recycling. This can be explained by knowing some statistics. 

  • The consumer recycling rate of aluminum is 45.2%
  • The industrial recycling rate of aluminum is 59.7%
  • Closed-loop circularity rate for aluminum is 92.6% compared to plasti which is 2-3%.
  • Recycled content used to make other aluminum products is 73%.

As can be seen, aluminum recyclability efficiency and product value is high. Glass and plastic falls far behind aluminum in terms of profitable recyclability.

Can paper be recycled endlessly?

The truth is that paper cannot be recycled endlessly because there is always a downcycling which means the quality of paper decreases with each recycling. This is because the cellulose fiber that is used to make paper becomes thinner thus affecting the quality. 

Either a new batch of pulp is added with the recyclable paper or the much used recycled paper is discarded in the landfill. Whereas materials like glasses are completely recyclable while maintaining the quality with each recycling. Papers and plastics lose their quality with every recycling and hence it is mandatory to make them from scratch.

Why is recycling paper bad?

Though the word recycling is like a knight in shining armor that is going to save the world from pollution, the process is actually different from what it is claiming to be. We have understood that with every recycling of paper, the fiber strength decreases which leads to poor paper quality and hence, papers made from 100% recycled straps are of poor quality. 

With each step included in paper making from recycled paper, a fresh batch of virgin wood pulp is also added to improve paper quality. Thus trees are still cut down even when we are using recycled papers. Moreover, the chemicals used to remove ink from the papers and bleaching leads to excessive toxic chemicals being dumped into water bodies. 

How much recycling actually gets recycled?

It is estimated that 65% of America’s aluminum goes for recycling and what happens to the rest 35%, you can guess. Even with the glass materials more than 50% of the annual production ended up in landfill. When products like glass and aluminum that can be effectively recycled, are lagging behind on the recyclability scale you can imagine the damage being done due to ineffective plastic and paper recycling.


Pivnenko K, Eriksson E, Astrup TF. Waste paper for recycling: Overview and identification of potentially critical substances. Waste Manag. 2015 Nov;45:134-42. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2015.02.028

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