Can anyone help Walter recycle books into post consumer paper products?

Filed in Blog by on June 2, 2010 6 Comments
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Thousands of books are landfilled every year. Are any companies willing to help?

Thousands of books are landfilled every year. Are any companies willing to help?

So far you’ve helped Frannie recycle her biodegradable PVC credit cards and we tried to help Michelle find a good use for her paint. You came to Mary’s rescue when she wanted to recycle milk bottle tops locally, and Richard’s when he needed some milk bottles for a project.

Now Walter needs your help with books!

We’ve shared lots of ideas on my zero waste for recycling books from donating them to a library to swapping them on a website. And of course, everyone’s favourite is to donate them to a charity so that a new owner can enjoy reading them while the charity of your choice benefits.

Unfortunately, Walter, a self confessed book lover discovered some alarming news about books that are sent to thrift / used book stores.

He wrote “I recently learned that at one thrift store hundreds and in some weeks thousands of donated books (both hard covers and paperbacks) are sent to the landfill every week!

So many books are donated that there is no room to add to the 10,000 they already have on the floor!

So I was wondering if anyone/company is able to actually turn huge numbers of unwanted books into post consumer paper products for tissues, toilet paper, etc?

I’m sure that this is happening at many locations, not just in my area“.

What a great idea! Walter wants to know if we can reuse unwanted books to make new products – a fantastic way to close the loop and turn unloved reading material into a new, useful product.

Do you know of any companies doing this?

Ok, so we can make altered art, take a few pages to make gift wrap or gift tags ourselves, but let’s get real. Most of us have heaps of books we need to get rid of each year. Which companies are landfill heroes and helping turn our trash into treasure?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Julie Day says:

    Is there anyway that they can be recycled? Do they have recycling facilities in these stores? That way they can be made into other products.

  2. Amanda says:

    here in canada we are able to add them to the recycling box that gets picked up each week..our region is awesome at reducing the amount of garbage gone to landfills by 67% this past year….

    you can leave a book or two at doctors/dentist/waiting room areas
    childrens books give to local schools & daycares..offer them to those starting up or currently running daycares from their homes…
    senior centres, one on a bus/train, trade with friends, second hand book stores(may get some $$),

    failing that tear out the pages & shred them to add to your worm compost a little at a time…great for garden, come to think of it lay the pages over your garden to keep out weeds when you are just getting started…

    excuse the ramblings but i am passionate about not sending anything to the land fill…must confess my garbage obsession was a result of this site..found you one day while “working” in Ontario my neighbours put out 3+ 121L bins every two weeks, mine is 3 grocery/carrier bags max….yeah me!!
    Dont even get me started on how i pay yearly hdyro/electricity the same amount as 2 bills of my neighbours!!

    Love the site, keep it up
    Toronto ON Canada

  3. I believe Bookdonors in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders recycle the books that aren’t suitable for selling on. May be worth having a word with them:

  4. LJayne says:

    I’d love to know an answer to this. Although I think you can’t actually have too many books lol ! I have more than the alloted space in my house can deal with. Plus I have some I really shouldn’t have bought.

  5. Karin says:

    ‘Thrift stores’ suggest that Walter is not from the UK. I am sad to say that in the library where I work we throw unsaleable books in the bin and a lot of new paperbacks seem to fall to bits within a year or two. Oxfam is the most obvious organisation I can think of which sells second hand books. It might be worth e-mailing them to ask them what they do with any books they receive which are not in a fit condition to sell as I would imagine (and hope) they also have the environment in mind when they run their shops. I might even e-mail them myself if I remember. There will be contact details on their website. Do they run in the US and Canada? I’ve seen them in Germany, so they are not just operating in the UK.

  6. Sooz says:

    I have no idea about where lots of books can be pulperised – to be honest I can’t bear the thought of destroying books! 🙁 If you have books to get rid of and have checked if your local charity shop wants them or not, you could always donate them to your local National Trust property if that has a 2nd hand book shop (they also accept CDs and DVDs and the money goes towards vital fundraising and conservation work) or freecycle them or set them free for someone else to find on bookcrossing ( Or stop buying books and borrow them from a library instead!

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