Home » How To Recycle Guides » Can You Recycle Paper Plates – Eco Guide 2023

Can You Recycle Paper Plates – Eco Guide 2024

As someone who uses typical plastic or ceramic plates, you may be wondering what a paper plate is. Simply put, paper plates are plates produced from trees. They are typically designed to resemble a plate.

It is, nevertheless, composed of paper, as the name indicates. People frequently consider recycling them because they are made of paper. While recycling paper materials is a good concept, paper plates are a different situation.

Can you recycle paper plates?

Some types of paper plates may be recycled. This is usually done with uncontaminated paper plates. So, can paper plates be recycled? While we commonly believe that paper-based things are recyclable, this is not necessarily the case with paper plates and other paper-based products.

Paper goods that do not reach the recycling process account for 36% of all landfill garbage.

To be able to recycle your paper plate.

Food contamination

Because the recycling process cannot remove food crumbs, oils, or fats from the paper, there should be no food residue on your paper plate. Pizza boxes, coffee pods like Nespresso pods, paper cups, and to-go containers are all prohibited. Basically, if you ate on a paper plate, you can’t recycle it. So, can you recycle filthy or used paper plates? Typically, the answer is no.


To prevent grease and other food oils from leaking through the plate, most paper plates are covered with wax, plastic, or clay. This coating, like food contamination, cannot be removed from the paper plates at the recycling plant. Although in rare circumstances, some communities can take coated paper plates, so check with your local recycling facility.

How Do You Recycle Paper Plates?

Nearly half of all paper used in the is recycled into new paper goods, including paper plates! If your paper plate passes all of the above tests and is ready for commercial recycling, it will travel through a series of steps before being reintroduced to the market as a new paper-based product.

  • Collection – You may either put your clean plates in a recyclable trash bag and bring them to your local recycling center yourself, or you can put them in your recycling bin for collection if your region has a pickup service.
  • Sorting – Your paper plates will be recycled, and any contaminated plates will be removed from the pile.
  • Pulping – The paper plate has now been turned into pulp. Several chemicals and water are frequently used in this procedure.
  • Screening – At this step, all extraneous substances in the pulp are removed. This is often performed by pressing the pulp through screens.
  • De-Inking – At this point, the various inks and glues that make up the paper plate are removed. This, on the contrary side, doesn’t include the oil. Remember that contaminated paper plates cannot be recycled?
  • Bleaching – The paper is then treated with various chemicals to get a white color. Hydrogen peroxide is usually effective.
  • Rolling – The pulp will next be rolled, dried, and cut into various sizes.

Paper plates can only be recycled so many times before their fiber

connection become too short to create new bonds and be molded into other paper objects. Paper may be recycled just five to seven times on average.

Are Paper Plates Biodegradable?

Paper plates are not only damaging, but they are also biodegradable. Don’t let that deceive you. It simply implies that they may decompose and release important nutrients into the soil. If you’re still unsure, just recall that paper is made from trees. And trees are an organic substance that is completely biodegradable.

Yes, paper plants are completely biodegradable. As a result, you may readily employ them for a range of soil-beneficial activities. While this is generally true, some paper plates are exempt from this regulation. Paper plates that have been covered with plastic graphics to keep water from ruining them are often not biodegradable.

How long do your paper plates take to decompose?

You can then consider how long it will take you to complete this task. For instance, How long do your paper plates take to decompose? Paper plates disintegrate fast in most cases. That is why they are so beneficial in composting.

If you plant them under the right circumstances, you may easily achieve this in a few months. If you wish to compost paper plates, keep this in mind. It takes around 180 days to deteriorate. However, depending on the conditions, it might take 45 to 60 days.

Ways to Reuse Paper Plates?

Looking out for methods to repurpose any paper plates you do have is an excellent alternative if you’re attempting to lessen your environmental effect. Even if they cannot be recycled, you may be able to discover new uses for them.

  • Reuse and clean – If you purchased heavy-duty paper plates and they are just slightly filthy after usage, such as if you served dry food on them, you may clean and reuse them.
  • Crafting activities –. If you have clean paper plates, you may use them for a variety of DIY projects.
  • Serve as packing – A folded paper plate can be used to construct a little basket for cookies, muffins, or other baked items.

Are Paper Plates Bad for the Environment?

This, however, already indicates in one way. Paper plates, on the other hand, create some type of environmental damage. To be honest, anything that causes environmental damage cannot be helpful for the environment, hence paper plates are certainly terrible for the environment.

Here are some of the effects of paper plates to help you understand. And, of course, how it ends up being harmful to the environment.


The fact that they are called paper plates indicates that they are composed of paper. And, because the paper is made from trees, the reasoning is self-evident. More paper plates equal more tree cutting. Greater tree felling equals more deforestation. Deforestation, in turn, creates increased environmental hazards.


Heavy machinery and equipment are necessary for the production of paper plates. This equipment emits noxious fumes and vapors. As a result, air pollution occurs, putting people’s lives at risk.

There is no question that anything that pollutes our environment cannot be beneficial to it.

Destruction of the Ecosystem

This follows naturally from the first point made above. Our ecology is dominated by plants and animals. Well, the more trees we cut down for paper plates, the more of our ecology we destroy. Indeed, the consequences are far-reaching.

Animals are losing their homes, and small plants are dying due to a lack of shelter from direct sunlight. Our oxygen supply continues to dwindle fast. Worse, we become more vulnerable to erosion and high winds. Without a doubt, paper plates are harmful to the earth.


Although you can recycle paper plates, you can only do so if you haven’t used them. It’s straightforward. Recycling them becomes difficult when you use them and they come into touch with grease or other pollution.

You can, however, experiment with composting. In this manner, you may put them to good use for your vegetables and garden. You’ll love them since they disintegrate quickly and provide several advantages to your plant.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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