Yes, you can (most of the envelope and most of the time). It may seem obvious but people are asking this question and considering the different components of an envelope, rightly so.
Components of your typical envelope:
*Not in most cases, although there are exceptions. Ask your local authority to find out if they take glue covered paper. While you’re at it ask them if the paper recycling takes that shiny paper, so you’ll know if you can recycle junk mail envelopes.
**For more information on recycling stamps check out the recyclenow website, which also has lots more great information on things you can and can’t recycle.
How to recycle your envelopes
Remove the see-through plastic address window and the glue covered seal. Use them to build a statue of yourself in the office or model cars using the see through plastic for windows and the glued seals for fixings and structure. Recycle the rest in the paper recycling.
Other suggestions for your envelopes
- Shopping lists — you may be able to use the sticky part to stick them to your fridge
- Re-use the ones with plastic windows (if you carefully open them)
- Put them under the short leg of a wonky table
- Use them for the storage/categorization of small things like newspaper clippings
- Start a flip book cartoon using one envelope a day
100% recyclable envelopes
You might prefer to save the statue making and cartoon drawing to the professionals. However, unless you have 100% recyclable envelopes it can be just as time consuming to recycle the envelopes.
There are some envelopes available that use a corn-based film for the address window, which dissolves in water, but these are few and far between.
If you’re sending mail that does not require a see through plastic address window there are 100% recyclable envelopes available (from us), which are also compostable and biodegradable.
How do you re-use your envelopes?
Model paper sail boats? To-do lists? Let us know in your comments.
Please do not print this page
115 billion sheets of paper are used annually for PC printers.