Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kraft envelopes are NOT recyclable!

I learned a little something new this week. Kraft envelopes, you know the ones that are like a bright golden-rod color, are NOT recyclable all across the nation.

If you look at the picture above, you will notice 3 different types of envelopes. The one on the left is recyclable with cardboard paper. The one in the middle is recyclable with office paper. The one on the right, "Kraft" paper, is NOT recyclable.

Why, you ask, is it not recyclable? Well, because of the dye techniques. Unlike the first 2 envelopes, the goldenrod envelope is dyed with a heavy-metal that is pounded into the fibers itself. The industry term is "beater dye". Because the dye is inside the fiber instead of just printed on top, the fibers cannot be recycled.

One way to tell the paper is dyed with the beater dye is to tear the paper. If the fibers in the tear are white then the paper is most likely recyclable. If the fibers in the tear, you know, kind of underneath the top layer, are NOT white, then the paper is most likely NOT recyclable.

Why are some envelopes and some colored paper made this way? Some manufacturers use this process to hide color or specs that one can sometimes see in plain paper, especially recycled paper.

So the biggest thing to be concerned about is that you may be purchasing products that are "recycled" but are not "recyclable".

What to do instead? Only use paper and envelopes that are recyclable with either cardboard or office paper. You dig?

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Blogger MamaBear said...

Thanks for this. I keep being disgusted at all the things I thought I was recycling that I haven't been for years and years, but it's good to know, so that I can have a better chance at having my recycles actually recycled, you know? My solution is just to reuse the envelopes. It looks tacky, but I just cut them smaller and cover up the old mailing addresses with the new ones and tape it shut.
I came here after you commented on my "little dreams and supercool bikes" post. Thanks! Since that post, I totally got over my hangups. We hooked up a trailer and I strapped the baby, helmet and everything, on my back until he was big enough to join his bro in the trailer. The next dream is winterizing the tailer. My husband bikes year-round (we live in MN) but I haven't found a safe way to do it with the kids in the winter. I think a cargo trike with an insulated, wind-proof cab might do it, if such a thing exists?
Anyway, I'd still jump at the chance for a bakfiets but I'm totally happy with our current setup; it's more versatile because I can detach and take off without the trailer.
Thanks for the links too; I'll check them out.

April 21, 2009 at 9:42 PM  

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