Yes, glossy paper is recyclable, but there are exceptions. Therefore, knowing about the conditions where you cannot recycle glossy paper is essential.
If not, you might toss it into the recyclable bin, which could contaminate the rest of the recyclables.
What Is Glossy Paper?
Glossy paper, in essence, is a regular paper that’s been made shiny with the use of some additives. Just like standard paper, glossy paper is made of fibers extracted from trees.
But in the case of the latter, manufacturers mix additives during the paper-making process, turning the final product lustrous.
Typically, the chemicals combined with paper fibers to produce a shiny sheet are organic, such as fine clay.
However, sometimes producers may use some toxic compounds to make the article made in their factory glossy. When that happens, the resulting sleek paper becomes unfit for recycling.
Can You Recycle Glossy Paper?
As mentioned above, you can recycle glossy paper. Pretty much all recycling enterprises accept a glossy paper to run it through the recycling plant. But of course, not without some conditions.
If a glossy paper contains toxic chemicals, it will contaminate the recyclables, making the entire recycling system go haywire.
One of the most commonly employed ways to make paper glossy is coating it in plastic. And it’s a known fact that plastic is not recyclable, which means it renders an otherwise recyclable item, aka paper, non-recyclable.
That means you need to ensure that the paper you intend to toss in the recycling bin doesn’t have plastic.
Luckily, doing so is not that difficult.
Also read: Are Paper Plates Bad for the Environment?
Test To Find Plastic In Glossy Paper?
There are three tests that you can run to determine if the shiny paper you have is recyclable or not.
Try Tearing It Into Pieces
The easiest method to figure out if a sheet of shiny paper is covered in plastic is to try and rip it apart.
When you attempt to tear a paper coated in plastic, you will not be able to do so, at least not without exerting a massive amount of force.
In simple words, if you really struggle to break apart glossy paper, the chances are high that it’s wrapped in plastic. If that happens to be the case, be sure not to put it out for recycling.
Crumple The Paper
Another quick test to find out if a paper has plastic is to crumple it and leave it. If the crumpled paper remains de-shaped, it most likely doesn’t have any traces of plastic.
However, if the sheet restores its shape, you have a non-recyclable material in hand.
Dip It In Water
The last trick to check if a paper is coated in plastic is to cut it into pieces and drop the pieces in a bowl of water. Let the water and paper mixture sit for a few hours.
Once 2-3 hours have passed, look at what became of the doused pieces of paper. If the bits appear mushy (as though close to dissolving into the water), know that the paper is safe for recycling.
But if the paper bits look pretty much as they did when you left them, they are not suitable for recycling.
Typically, nobody has the time to wait for hours looking at the paper and seeing if a piece of paper disintegrates in water, which is why the second tactic is by far considered the easiest to execute.
Also read: Is Laminated Paper Recyclable?
Is Color-Containing Glossy Paper Recyclable?
No, in most cases, it is not!
Paint or any type of hue on glossy paper is rarely free of toxic chemicals.
That means, if a shiny sheet of paper has spatters of color on it, it shouldn’t be sent to a recycling plant.
Glossy Paper And Compost-ability
Many people assume that glossy paper is not compostable, but that’s not entirely true. Like recyclability, glossy paper’s compost-ability also depends on the additives in it.
In other words, if the glossy paper contains artificial chemicals or is coated in plastic, it becomes unsuitable for composting.
If you throw it in the compost bin, it will only contaminate the other items in there.
To check if a specimen of paper can go into the compost bucket, you can run any of the three tests mentioned above.
IF you don’t want to scroll back up again, here is a quick recap of how you can assess if the glossy paper you intend to dispose of can be composted or not.
Rip It Up
If you cannot tear the sheet easily, it is most likely covered in plastic. Hence, it cannot be composted.
The second test to determine if a glossy paper can be composted is to crumple it and observe what happens next.
If the crumpled material goes back to its original shape, it must have a plastic layer around it.
On the contrary, if the ball of paper before you remains such, you can toss it in the compost bin.
Leave It In Water
Take a glass or bowl of water and dip pieces of a glossy paper sheet in it.
If the bits start to disintegrate after some time, you can consider composting them.
What Happens If You Try To Compost Plastic-Coated Glossy Paper?
Since compost plays a vital role in feeding plants and making the earth fertile for plantation, it should be organic; otherwise, it will contaminate the soil.
Once the soil becomes adulterated, it will become harmful to plants. Obviously, if a non-compostable material ends up in the land, it will release toxic elements into the ground, poisoning the plants.
Long story short, if you mistakenly put plastic-coated glossy paper into the compost bin, and it somehow mixes up with other composting materials, it will make the entire formulation toxic.
Once the harmful compounds leak into the ground, the yields will not turn out healthy.
But that’s not all! Sometimes poisonous compost can get washed away by floodwater into the water bodies, eventually entering the bodies of marine animals.
Naturally, if plastic or any similar material ends up in the ocean, fish will not know the difference and consume it. As a result, they will develop health problems.
What If Glossy Paper Is Not Recycled?
Even though, in most cases, glossy paper is recyclable, there may be times when it isn’t. In such scenarios, what will become of the unrecycled paper? Will it hurt the environment?
Recycling is essential for the environment because it allows the healthy and safe disposal of things.
But when something doesn’t go through the said process, it can become a threat to the atmosphere.
So, that raises the question of if the glossy paper is harmful to the environment if it remains unrecycled? There is a two-sided answer to this question.
If a paper is shiny without any synthetic additives and is wholly produced with organic materials like minerals and fine clay, it will not be a threat to the environment.
So as long as no harmful chemicals are used to make glossy paper, it will not hurt Mother Nature.
Paper With Plastic
On the other hand, if the glossy paper contains traces of plastic, toxic chemicals, or is coated in plastic, it automatically becomes dangerous to the environment.
Since plastic is non-biodegradable (doesn’t break down), it keeps the paper inside from breaking down as well.
Consequently, glossy paper becomes bad for the earth and can contribute to pollution.
When talking about biodegradability, it’s essential to discuss where glossy paper stands in terms of the time it takes to break down.
Glossy Paper And Biodegradability
Biodegradability refers to whether an item can be decomposed and subsequently disposed of completely. If a material can be, it is called biodegradable.
Using biodegradable articles is important because it keeps the environment healthier.
Naturally, when something can be completely disposed of and turned into organic matter, it will not remain in the atmosphere, ensuring a healthier environment.
So does the glossy paper make do good or bad for Mother Earth? The good news is that in most cases, it does well for nature.
But sadly, when artificial additives or plastics get involved, a shiny sheet of paper turns menacing for the environment.
Because plastic won’t let glossy paper decompose, it will stay in the atmosphere, possibly land in the ocean, and be harmful to the fish.
Knowing what glossy paper can do can help you make an informed choice about the products you choose.
That is, by knowing the hazards of using plastic-covered paper, you will make a conscious effort to buy the all-natural one.
Like regular paper, glossy paper is recyclable unless it contains synthetic materials, such as plastic.
If you want to help nature and support the use of items that can go through the recycling process, you should be conscientious of your paper choices.
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