Is Tissue Paper Recyclable? The Surprising Truth (+4 Creative Ways)

Savanna Stanfield

Tissue paper is one of the cheapest gift-wrapping and packing materials that money can buy.

It comes in a wide range of colors and prints so that people can truly personalize their gifts. 

As the holidays roll around every year, you may find yourself with an abundance of tissue paper that you aren’t sure what to do with.

If you’re trying to be more eco-friendly, you may be wondering if tissue paper can be recycled?

The answer is both yes and no. Technically, tissue paper can be recycled. But, most recycling facilities don’t accept it.

Why don’t recycling facilities accept tissue paper?

And how can you dispose of tissue paper in an eco-friendly way?

We’ll explain everything in this article.

What Is Tissue Paper Made Of?

Like other paper products, tissue paper is made from wood pulp. 

Sometimes tissue paper is made from raw materials, but a lot of times it is made from recycled wood pulp that comes from newspapers or other paper products.

The pulp is wetted, then rolled onto a machine until it has reached a certain thickness.

Then, the pulp is dried and rolled onto cylinders. Afterward, it is cut to the desired size.

All the sheets of a certain size are put together into a unit of tissue paper known as a ream – about 480 sheets in all.

Is Tissue Paper Recyclable?

Since tissue paper is made from the same materials as other types of paper, it is technically recyclable.

You may even notice that some tissue paper says that it is 100% recyclable on the packaging. 

But even though tissue paper is labeled as being recyclable and made from the same materials as other paper, it usually can’t actually be recycled.

Many recyclers don’t accept tissue paper as a recyclable material, and here’s why:

  1. Recycling materials requires certain equipment.
  2. Companies aren’t willing to pay for recycled tissue paper.
  3. Tissue paper does not recycle easily.

Many recycling facilities can choose what they do or don’t recycle. 

The reason is that some materials are cheaper to recycle than others and all recycled materials are processed differently.

Some facilities may not be able to recycle paper, and even if they can, they may not recycle all types of paper.

Money is another issue with recycling. One aspect of recycling relies on companies to buy their recycled materials.

Tissue paper is considered a low-grade material, so recycling facilities have a hard time finding companies to purchase it. They can’t make a profit off of it, so they don’t recycle it.

Lastly, tissue paper is difficult to recycle because a lot of it is already made from other recycled paper.

Paper materials, in general, can only be recycled a certain number of times.

Each time paper is recycled, the fibers are shredded and chopped, making them shorter each time.

The recycled newspaper that is used to make tissue paper already has fairly short fibers.

Tissue paper fibers are even shorter, so they can’t be recycled again.

Although tissue paper is considered and marketed as recyclable, it simply isn’t feasible to do so.

Are Any Types of Tissue Paper Recyclable?

All tissue paper is recyclable, but there are very few – if any – facilities that accept tissue paper as a recyclable material. 

Even if tissue paper says that it is 100% recyclable, you usually can’t recycle it through your curbside recycling program.

There aren’t many recycling facilities that you can take it to either. You’re better off disposing of it another way.

Is Tissue Paper Compostable?

Although tissue paper isn’t recyclable, the good news is that it is compostable.

Since tissue paper is made from natural materials, some of which are recycled, you can use it in your compost. 

And even though there aren’t many recycling facilities that accept tissue paper, most composting facilities will accept it.

If you are looking for a way to dispose of your tissue paper in an eco-friendly way, composting it is the way to go.

Does Tissue Paper End up in Landfills?

A lot of tissue paper does end up in landfills simply because it’s convenient for people to throw it away or they don’t know how else to dispose of it.

Many municipal recycling facilities suggest just throwing tissue paper away with the rest of your trash.

Of course, the downside is that it goes to a landfill. 

The good news is that unlike some of the other materials in a landfill, tissue paper is biodegradable.

The bad news is that tissue paper may not biodegrade very efficiently if it is buried within trash that isn’t biodegradable.

This may lead to it decomposing anaerobically, which can release the potent greenhouse gas methane.

How Do You Dispose of Tissue Paper Correctly?

Since tissue paper isn’t recyclable, the best way to dispose of it is to compost it if you have a compost pile or bin.

If you don’t compost, you can take it to a composting facility if you have one near you.

If that isn’t an option either, the best thing to do is to save it and reuse it in lieu of throwing it away.

But if you don’t have anything else you can do with it, you can throw it away as a last resort. It will biodegrade in a landfill eventually.

Is Tissue Paper Flushable?

It may seem like tissue paper would be flushable due to its thinness and texture.

But, you should not flush tissue paper.

The reason is that, unlike toilet tissue, tissue paper does not break down when it is wet.

Flushing a single piece of tissue paper isn’t likely to cause a problem.

But if you repeatedly flush tissue paper as a way to dispose of it, it could cause larger problems over time.

Since it doesn’t break down when wet, it can clog up your pipes or septic system in large quantities. 

This can be an expensive fix, so it is best not to flush tissue paper.

4 Creative Ways to Reuse Tissue Paper

If you have a lot of tissue paper stored away and you can’t compost it all, but you don’t want to just throw it away either, there are creative ways to reuse it.

1. Party Decorations

There are almost endless possibilities for how you can use tissue paper to decorate for your next party.

A quick online search will give you numerous ways you can use tissue paper to create a garland, tissue paper flowers, piñatas, and more.

Watch this video to learn 4 ways that you can use tissue paper to make flowers.

2. Advent Calendar

Advent calendars are popular leading up to the holidays or other big events.

And what better way to make one than by using last year’s leftover tissue paper?

To make one, all you need are paper cups (one for each day leading up to the holiday), a big piece of cardboard, some hot glue, and tissue paper.

Glue the bottom of each cup to the cardboard, put a piece of candy or other small prizes into each cup, then cover the top with tissue paper and use a rubber band to attach it.

Each day, you can bust the tissue paper and get the prize that is in the cup until you’ve opened every one of them.

3. Picture Frames

Making your own picture frames is a great way to reuse any patterned tissue paper you have lying around.

To make a picture frame out of tissue paper, you can either cut the shape out of cardboard or buy a plain frame at the store.

Then, use Mod Podge to glue the tissue paper to the frame. Leave it as-is with just the tissue paper, or add some small tissue paper flowers as well.

4. Stained Glass Vase

You can also use tissue paper and Mod Podge to make a stained glass vase. 

To do this, just purchase a clear vase or jar from any craft store, or repurpose one that you already have at home.

Tear or cut the tissue paper into small pieces, then glue them to the vase with the Mod Podge.

You can use the vase to hold flowers, candles, office supplies, or anything else you want.

Conclusion

Although tissue paper is labeled as being recyclable, most recycling facilities won’t accept it.

This is due to the size of the fibers being too small to recycle effectively and recycling centers not being able to make a profit off of it.

But, just because tissue paper isn’t recycled, it doesn’t mean there aren’t eco-friendly ways to dispose of it.

Tissue paper is 100% compostable, and it is biodegradable as well. 

There are also many creative and crafty ways that you can reuse tissue paper if you have a lot of it.

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