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How to sell recycled paper

Updated April 17, 2017

Paper is made from virgin tree pulps. Some paper mills still use them, but most of them use recovered paper in making new paper. It is more readily available than trees and it also saves the environment by minimising the amount of waste we produce. Recovered paper prices depend on quality and grade. The basic grades are old newspaper (ONP), old corrugated cardboard (OCC), white ledger (WL) and mixed paper. WL is profitable to sell because it's the most widely used new paper. The mixed grade is the one that is bought at the lowest price due to impurities.

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  1. Sort the paper into different grades: ONP, OCC, WL, WL (shredded), mixed, mixed (shredded). Mixed grade refers to those that do not belong to the other paper grades. Examples of which are magazines, mailing envelopes and coloured paper. WL that has lamination, such as glossy paper, should be placed with the mixed grade because it's not pure white and can cause damage to the composition of the white grade paper during the manufacturing of new paper. Do not include newspapers that are more than six months old because the paper quality is already yellowish and could stain the new paper that will be produced.

  2. Cut out sections where paint, grease, oil, adhesives and other foreign matters have stained the paper in order to include them in their respective grades. Otherwise, it's not fit for recycling because it would disturb the composition of the paper as it's being made into new paper.

  3. Take away nonpaper attachments like fasteners and staples.

  4. Put the shredded paper into the garbage bag (by grade) for ease in transport. Tie the ONP together using a twine. Do the same for the rest of the paper grades.

  5. Bring the sorted recovered paper to your local recycling facility.

  6. Tip

    You can upgrade a white mailing envelope from mixed to WL by cutting out the area where the adhesive is. If the envelope is a window type, take out the plastic as well. Try to avoid shredding WL paper because it is priced cheaper than whole paper due to the space it consumes during transport. Some people flush water onto the paper before selling them, thinking that the added weight on the volume will increase the total selling price because paper is bought by weight. Recycling paper mills have a different computation for wet paper. So it's best to keep the recovered paper "clean."


    Do not include carbonless paper or used airline tickets, because they turn into a different colour when dissolved during the manufacturing of new paper. This stains the colour of the new paper being produced.

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Things You'll Need

  • Used paper
  • Scissors
  • Paper trimmer
  • Clear garbage bag
  • Twine

About the Author

Based in Northern California, Sue Teresa Tan has been writing essays and journal entries during her free time since 2001 when she retired from work as a business owner. Her favorite topics to write about are arts and crafts, fashion, health, and travel. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in archeology from the Universite Des Beaux-Arts in Cambodia. Her work has been featured on eHow.

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