Even in our digitized world, paper is an indispensable product that is still widely in use. It has the crucial property of being recycled and used again. But what about laminated paper? Is it recyclable, considering that the lamination is made of plastic?
Can you recycle laminated paper? Yes and no. Well, mostly you cannot. Although paper is fully recyclable, the plastic used for lamination isn’t. To separate the paper from lamination, you need to remove the plastic first. But you cannot subject the plastic to high heat for its removal as the heat will destroy the paper.
Is there no way to recycle laminated paper? What are the unconventional ways? If you are a concerned citizen looking for a way to recycle laminated papers, we have got you covered with the answers to all your possible questions. Now, let’s get to it!
What is Laminated Paper?
Laminated paper is produced by the process of lamination printing on paper. Now, lamination printing enhances and protects paper or card sheets by applying a thin layer of plastic on them.
Paper is laminated to increase its durability and make it tear-resistant and water-resistant. With its pros also come many cons of recycling it.
Can you Recycle Laminated Paper?
You cannot recycle laminated paper conventionally. However, there are a few unconventional ways to get it done.
These unconventional methods are not used widely, which is why you should look for other alternatives as well. In the upcoming topics, we’ll be discussing these alternatives and unconventional methods of recycling.
While laminating the paper does make it a lot more durable than regular paper, what happens to it once it has lost its use? Remember that tossing them into the bin should not be your first choice.
Recycling facilities do not accept laminated papers. But why’s that? Let’s find out in the next section.
Why is it difficult to recycle laminated paper?
The following pointers explain why you cannot recycle laminated paper:
The reason behind the non-recycling property of laminated paper is its lamination.
You can recycle and process the paper to produce various other useful products and handicraft items, but the lamination prevents you from doing any of it.
As we had previously mentioned, the sole purpose of lamination is to protect the paper from damage and increase its durability.
Paper requires water for recycling
Did you know that water is required for recycling paper? As lamination makes the paper water-resistant, there is no way for water to reach the paper for recycling.
On the other hand, to break down the laminating plastic, certain technical conditions are required, unfortunately damaging the paper inside.
Only similar materials are recycled together
You must remember that recycling facilities recycle only similar materials together. There are no other impurities along with those materials.
Now, the lamination is made of plastic, and inside it lies the paper. Both of them are recyclable, but these materials are not at all similar.
Separating the paper from the plastic is almost impossible. The recycling facilities will require high costs and more time to develop a process that separates the lamination from the paper before recycling them.
Remember how we talked about the unconventional methods of recycling laminated paper earlier? That’s what we are going to talk about now.
Unconventional methods of recycling laminated paper
Since recycling laminated paper is not possible by conventional methods, some companies have unconventional ways of recycling it.
Let’s dive in and learn how we can contribute to it.
TerraCycle recycles laminated waste at $97
TerraCycle is a company that recycles your laminated waste. This company has a special technology that allows them to separate the plastic from paper and recycle the laminated waste simultaneously.
TerraCycle sends you a box to collect the laminated waste, which you have to send back to their recycling facility. But recycling this waste is not free. You have to pay about 97 dollars for their service.
NoW is a company that stands for no-waste technology. It manufactures a lamination technology that allows the laminated products to be easily recycled.
There is a water-soluble layer present between the plastic and the paper that enables their separation for recycling.
Biodegradable or recyclable lamination
Celloglas is a company that has come up with a unique technology of lamination made of cellulose. Cellulose is a crucial compound found in the primary cell structures of plants.
As the lamination is made of cellulose, it is both biodegradable and compostable.
I believe that the lamination material of this company is much better than NoW’s technology. It is because NoW’s separable lamination is only recyclable and not biodegradable or compostable like Celloglas’s cellulose lamination.
Every time you recycle plastic, its quality degrades. If plastic undergoes the recycling process many times, it will not be fit for being used in anything.
Finally, that recycled plastic will end up in a dump yard anyway. Therefore, keep in mind that recycling only delays plastic in reaching landfills, but the dump yards are inevitable at the end of its usage cycle.
On the contrary, paper is a material that can be infinitely recycled. In terms of its recyclability, cellulose is just like paper. If Celloglas’s products could be recycled or composted an infinite number of times, they will never reach the dump yards.
Metalized paper instead of lamination
AR Metallizing is a company that has developed a metallic alternative to plastic lamination.
This metallic alternative to plastic lamination is recyclable. They have named the product “Silberboard.” This product realizes the importance of sustainability and the aesthetics of the packaging.
They use a process called “metalized vacuum vaporization,” in which a microscopic layer of metal is applied to the paper to cover it and provide protection.
Alternatives to recycling laminated paper
If you cannot use any of the above unconventional methods, then follow these alternatives to recycling laminated paper.
Reducing the use of laminated paper
Nowadays, you also have the option of reduced the use of laminated paper. Laminated paper can be extremely beneficial but is not always necessary.
Laminate a piece of paper only when you have to make your paper durable, tear-resistant, and water-resistant.
Using plastic sleeves and sheet protector
You can even turn to alternatives that are healthier for nature and allow easy recycling. Plastic sleeves and sheet protectors are such protection alternatives.
By using these alternatives instead of laminated paper, will allow recycling facilities to easily separate different materials and recycle them. Additionally, you can ensure that paper and plastic will not end up in landfills.
Creating dry-erase boards
With laminated papers, you can easily create dry-erase boards. For converting your unwanted laminated papers into fun dry-erase boards, all you need is some magnetic tape, a whiteboard marker, and some dry paper towels or tissues.
You need to attach the magnetic tape to your laminated papers and then place it on your fridge or any metallic surface. A metallic surface is also essential for the magnetic effects to kick in.
After placing the board on any metallic surface, your kids can have fun writing on it. Erase the board with your paper towels or tissues for rewriting.
Using them as table mats
If your laminated papers are large enough for plates to be placed on them, then you can easily use them as table mats.
You can also make those large laminated papers interesting by applying your creativity and paint on them.
Reusing them in DIY projects
Today, YouTube is flooded with DIY tutorial videos. You can watch and re-watch these tutorials, get some ideas, and craft out different useful materials from laminated papers.
For instance, you can use it to make beautiful bookmarks and coasters of different shapes and sizes.
How is laminated paper harmful to the environment?
By now, you might have realized that recycling laminated papers is almost impossible. And if they can’t be recycled, they will ultimately end up in dump yards. Even after they are reused, they will reach a saturation point after a certain time.
Here is how laminated paper is harmful to the environment:
It is non-biodegradable
Along with being unrecyclable, laminated papers are also non-biodegradable.
And when a material is non-biodegradable, it occupies land for a very long time and also pollutes it.
It can lead to more deforestation
All of us know that the production of papers leads to deforestation. Today, a large amount of paper is being recycled, because of which deforestation has decreased considerably.
But if more laminated papers are used, then there will be a lower level of paper recycling, ultimately leading to more deforestation. This is how the use of laminated paper leads to a higher level of deforestation.
It can lead to a higher carbon emission
A higher rate of deforestation leads to a lesser amount of carbon emission absorption. Due to this, a larger amount of carbon emission accumulates in the atmosphere and leads to increased greenhouse effects.
As laminated papers can cause a higher level of deforestation, they also lead to higher carbon emissions.
To sum it up, we’ve gathered that laminated paper is hazardous for our environment.
As we reach the end of the article, we conclude that you cannot usually recycle laminated paper. Be vigilant and wise, and try to reuse your laminated paper.
And more importantly, you should use it only when it is absolutely necessary.