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Oklahoma State University

Recycling: Paper and Cardboard

So you want to recycle a paper product instead of sending it to the landfill? Good for you! Is it an essay on 12th century British Literature that you accidentally printed sideways? Is it a plate that held the best slice of pizza you've ever had? Those probably won’t be going to the same bin, so take a look below to find out where those should go and why. Also, please keep food-soiled or wet paper out of the recycle bin. Don't waste the efforts of others by tossing without thinking, please.

White Paper

  • Recyclable? YES! Don’t worry about the plastic window on the junk mail or staples.
  • Where to put it:
    • On-campus: Toss it in the white rectangular boxes in the computer labs and hallways on campus.
    • Off-campus: Toss it in your curbside recycling polycart, or take it to the City of Stillwater’s Convenience Collection Center.
  • This is the most valuable version of paper. It can be recycled back into white paper! 

Non-White Paper (Mixed Paper) 

  • Recyclable? Yes! Colored paper, newspaper, phone books, journals, manila folders, and magazines are all accepted.
  • Where to put it:
    • On-campus: You can now place mixed paper in the same recycle bin as white paper.  OSU employees will sort it at the OSU Recycle Center.
    • Off-campus: Mixed paper can be placed in your curbside polycart or taken to the City of Stillwater's Convenience Collection Center.
  • Though this version of paper is not as valuable as white paper, it is just as important to recycle it. 


  • Paperboard is a single layer, whereas cardboard is thicker. This will be materials like the box in which your favorite brightly-colored, super-sugary cereal resides (because 9-year-olds recycle too).
  • Recyclable? Yes!
  • Where to put it:
    • On-campus: Toss this material into paper recycling boxes on campus.
    • Off-campus: Paperboard and chipboard can be placed in your single stream curbside recycling polycart or mixed in with paper at the Convenience Collection Center.

Paper plates, paper cups, and other food containers made of paper

  • Recyclable? Mmmmaaayyybbee. Not very likely, though. If a paper plate or cup is sparkly clean, recycle it. Carefully check your cups, plates, and other containers to make sure that there’s not a waxy lining or plastic film. If there is, it’s going to have to be placed in the trash to be taken to the landfill. Also, if there is grease, oil, or food on it, you should just trash it. If you can cut the soiled portion off and recycle the rest, then go for it, you recyclemaniac!
  • Where to put it:
    • On campus: If it’s a cup or container from a dining hall, it is most likely not recyclable because it is with coated with something or it has food residue on it.
    • Off-campus: If there’s no coating or food residue on it, you can put it in your curbside recycling polycart, or take it to the City of Stillwater Convenience Collection Center 
  • Wax and plastic are not and cannot be paper. If paper is lined with either of these, it ceases to be recyclable paper because the wax and plastic coating cannot be separated from the paper protion of the product. Paper goods are mashed into pulp and put through baths of water during the recycling process. Water and oil do not mix, therefore your paper plate dripping with pizza grease should go in the trash rather than contaminating a batch of recycling. Again, it is always acceptable to separate the clean portion to recycle and toss the rest.

Books and Magazines

  • Recyclable? Perhaps. Before recycling, look for an option to resell or reuse!
  • Where to put it:
    • On campus: ReadCycle in the Libro Cafe will accept paperback books and recent issues of magazines. Paperback books can also be recycled with mixed paper.
    • Off campus: Donate books to the Stillwater Public Library. Paperback books can also be recycled with mixed paper.

Laminated Paper

  • Recyclable? Not at all; it’s mostly plastic.
  • Where to put it: 1997, because nobody laminates things anymore. If you happen to have something that is laminated that you need to dispose of, try reusing it as much as possible. Otherwise, it has to be sent to the landfill.
  • The reason laminated paper cannot be recycled is similar to that of waxed paper. Because water is used to recycle paper and heat is used to recycle plastic, once the paper is combined with the plastic, it essentially becomes contaminated and is no longer recyclable. 


  • Yes, I know you just pictured a sweet mustache, impressive motorcycles, and intense father-son drama, but we’re talking about “Old Corrugated Cardboard.” To tell if it’s OCC, look for the waffle-like construction that makes up the walls of a piece of cardboard. This is everything from that box you haven’t unpacked yet to the stack of pizza boxes in your garage.
  • Recyclable? YES! Break down all boxes to save space and remove any plastic packaging or other debris. Most pizza boxes are accepted.  Make sure they are empty and leave out the greasy ones.  Recyclables are hand-sorted in our community. Think about that.
  • Where to put it:
    • On-campus: You can place old corrugated cardboard in or next to the paper containers located across campus. There are also 13 green cardboard dumpsters (the dumpster is green, the color of the cardboard doesn't matter) located across campus that your cardboard can go in. Please break down and flatten your boxes before placing them in or next to any of these containers as it saves custodial and recycling staff time and space when collecting OCC. 
    • Off-campus: Place it in your curbside recycling poly cart or take it to a City of Stillwater recycling location. 
  • If the cardboard has a plastic or wax coating, landfill it.

Great job! You are now a recycling pro, and it wasn't even that hard was it!? As you can see, the majority of your paper and cardboard products can be recycled relatively easily on OSU's campus and within the City of Stillwater.

For more information on recycling in the City of Stillwater, utilize the links below.

Single Stream Curbside Recycling
To see a list of all the items that are accepted in the City of Stillwater's Single-Stream Curbside Recycling Program click here.

City of Stillwater Convenience Collection Center
807 South Perkins Road Stillwater, OK 74074
Hours:  Tuesday-Friday  10am-6pm
             Saturday 8am-4pm
             CLOSED Sunday-Monday & All Recognized City Holidays

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