Are There Impediments To Recycling?
Certain types of adhesives may impede the recycling/recovery process because they tend to form very small particles (“stickies”) that adhere to production equipment and are difficult to remove through the screening and other physical processing methods employed in pulp mills.  Examples of potentially problematic adhesives are polyvinyl acetate (PVA), acrylic polymers, polystyrene polymers (such as styrene butadiene rubber), and hot melt adhesives (thermoplastics).  Alternatively, consider using water-soluble substitutes that utilize starch, dextrins, gums, and cellulose (polycel); offer comparable performance characteristics; and do not interfere with downstream paper fiber recovery operations.

Some ink formulations and colors can be problematic because they are difficult to break up and remove in the repulping process.  Of particular concern are certain bright red, orange, and “day-glow” types of inks, which reportedly are difficult to remove from repulped recovered paper. 

The presence of CDs, samples, or other non-paper inserts does not inhibit recovery or reuse of catalogs and direct mail to any significant degree, although it may make it harder to recycle them as the recycling processor may have to remove the non-paper inserts first. 

As a best practice, DMA encourages its members to

  • discontinue or decrease use of materials and packaging that may limit the recyclability of their products;

  • work with designers of samples and inserts to ensure they can be easily detached from the catalogs and mail pieces; and

  • instruct consumers to remove unrecyclable inserts from catalogs and direct mail pieces before recycling them.

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What Happens To Catalogs & Direct Mail That Are Recycled?
Old magazines, catalogs, and direct mail, as well as the envelopes they may be delivered in, are currently recovered and used to make newsprint, tissue, paper/box board, and even writing and printing paper at numerous mills throughout the country. Recovered paper is graded, bought, and sold in regional, national, and global markets.

Old catalogs and magazines are valuable to producers of recycled-content newsprint because they help to de-ink (or remove ink from) recovered newspaper.  They also contain fiber and clay coatings that can impart improved brightness and a smoother texture to certain components of multi-ply box and liner board.

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“Recycle Please” References
For DMA’s press release about the campaign, click here.

For FTC’s staff opinion letter on this campaign, click here .

For a copy of The Potential for Greater Fiber Recovery from Magazines, Catalogs, and Direct Mail (December 2006), click here. This report, prepared by SLS Consulting, discusses the degree to which magazines, catalogs, and direct mail are recycled for their paper fiber content, and whether there are technical or economic factors that might limit future efforts to increase the effective recycling and recovery of paper fiber in these materials.

For the Executive Summary of American Forests & Paper Association’s (AF&PA’s) 2005 Community Survey, please click here. This study measures the extent and tracks the growth of access to community-level paper and paperboard recycling in the U.S.

For more information on current recycling and recovery rates in American communities, please visit AF&PA’s website at

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General Recycling Resources for Businesses

Abundant Forests Alliance (AFA)

American Forest & Product Association (AF&PA)

DMA Environmental Planning Tool & Optional Policy Generator
A free web-based tool that provides marketers with over one-hundred strategies to improve their environmental footprint, and educates on the complexity and variety of environmental issues facing the direct marketing community.

DMA Environmental Resource Center (Coming soon!)
Compilation of tools and publications to assist businesses in understanding the environmental issue and continually improve their environmental footprint.

Earth 911
Contains information for consumers on a variety of topics such as air pollution prevention, recycling, global warming, and water pollution & conservation. Enter your zip code to search for recycling and reuse services in your community.

EPA Recycling Resources

EPA WasteWise Program

Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) “Green Guides” (Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims)

Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC)

Metafore is a nonprofit organization that works with business, government and other leaders to meet environmental goals.

National Solid Wastes Management Association

National Recycling Coalition (NRC)

Paper Industry Association Council (PIAC)

Recycled Paper Coalition Peninsula Conservation Center