Many children's toys and other items come with a box or package made of cardboard with a thin plastic coating. How does this affect the recycling process?

Can paper recycling facilities generally process this material?

I think some cardboard packaging for food is using this material too, and in some cases the plastic layer seems to be so thin it's hard to tell whether it's actually plastic, or whether it's just a glossy cardboard.


1 Answer 1


Paper recycling facilities usually can handle the small amount of plastic that's on a lot of boxes, but the plastic cannot be recycled in the same facility, so cardboard of that type is overall less sustainable than pure paper cardboard. Usually, the paper/cardboard is ground up and mixed with some chemicals, and then centrifuged to make new paper. Tiny bits of plastic end up in the recycled paper, but it's usually not noticeable.

  • 3
    That's not so good if people end up composting or burning the recycled paper! Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 23:37

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