Can You Recycle Postcards? [A Guide to Sustainable Postcard Disposal]

Postcards are a great way to stay connected to friends and family, especially on holidays and vacations. They can also be used for advertising, promotions and as keepsakes. Unfortunately, like most paper products, postcards have a finite lifetime and will eventually end up in the bin.

So, the question arises: Can postcards be recycled? The answer is not cut-and-dry; it depends on various elements. In this article, we will look into postcard recycling questions and provide a guide to environmentally friendly postcard disposal.

What Are Postcards Made Of?

To find out if postcards can be recycled, it is important to understand the materials they are made of. Postcards usually consist of paper or cardstock, which is a more solid and resilient type of paper. The thickness of the paper usually ranges from 300gsm.

Postcards may also have coatings or laminates on them such as glossy finish, matte finish, or UV varnish which influence their recyclability. It is not only the material that matters; these finishes add an extra layer making it harder to recycle and significantly decreasing postcard packaging sustainability.

Can You Recycle Postcards With Glossy or Matte Coatings?

Postcards with glossy or matte coatings are not easy to recycle. These finishes can make it harder for paper mills to break down the postcards during the recycling process, making it difficult for them to create new paper products from them. Furthermore, these finishes can also contaminate the recycling stream and lead to rejected loads or incur higher costs for the recyclers.

For instance, glossy finishes can cause sticking in the machinery used for sorting and baling cardboard, thus resulting in expensive repairs due to frequent downtime. Additionally, because of their texture and strength, matte coatings require more energy to be broken down than plain paper and may harm the quality of recycled materials.

Can You Recycle Postcards With UV Varnish?

Postcards with UV varnish are also not easy to recycle. This type of coating adds a glossy finish and prevents the postcard from fading, water damage, or being contaminated by fingerprints. However, it can make it difficult for recycling facilities to separate the paper fibers from the coating material which reduces the quality of the recycled paper.

The UV varnish is composed of plastic-based materials making it hard to break down into small enough fragments, therefore endangering the recycling process. Additionally, because this varnish works as a protective layer between the paper and external environmental factors, it could contaminate other items during sorting or baling and lead to rejected loads or increased costs.

Can You Recycle Postcards Without Coatings?

Postcards without coatings are generally easier to recycle than those with coatings. However, it is important to check with your local recycling facility first to make sure that postcards are accepted. This is because some recycling facilities have strict guidelines on the types of paper products they can accept, and postcards may not meet the necessary standards due to their size or structure.

Furthermore, even if postcards do meet these standards, they could still be contaminated by other materials such as inks or coatings that make them unsuitable for the specific recycling process used at the facility. Therefore, always check with your local recycler before disposing of any postcard to ensure that it can be recycled properly.

How Can You Tell if a Postcard is Recyclable?

If you’re unsure whether a postcard is recyclable, there are a few things you can look for to help determine its suitability. Checking for a recycling symbol or label on the postcard is a good way to confirm that it contains recycled materials and is therefore more likely to be suitable for recycling.

Additionally, you should inspect the quality of the paper and check if it has any coatings or finishes as these materials can make it difficult for a recycling facility to process and may ultimately reduce the quality of the recycled paper.

Ultimately, if in doubt, contact your local recycling facility for guidance as they will have specific knowledge about the types of products they accept and what processes they use.

Can You Reuse Postcards?

If your postcards are not recyclable, you can still find ways to reuse them. This helps to extend the life of the material and reduce waste. For example, postcards can be used as bookmarks, scrapbooking materials or even as postcards again by covering the original message with a new one.

Additionally, postcards may also be suitable for donations to schools, libraries or community centers for arts and crafts projects. By reusing postcards, it is possible to continue enjoying them while also reducing their impact on the environment.

How Can You Dispose of Postcards Responsibly?

If you can’t recycle or reuse your postcards, you can still dispose of them responsibly. Shredding postcards and using them as packing materials is a great way to repurpose them and reduce waste.

Alternatively, if the postcards are made out of biodegradable materials, they can be composted. For larger quantities of postcards, it’s worth considering taking them to a specialized paper recycling facility or contacting a recycling company that specializes in hard-to-recycle materials.

By disposing of postcards in an environmentally conscious manner, it is possible to ensure they are disposed of safely and sustainably.

What Are the Benefits of Recycling Postcards?

Recycling postcards has several benefits. When postcards are recycled, natural resources such as wood pulp are conserved, which helps to reduce the demand for these materials and protect our environment. Additionally, recycling postcards reduces the amount of waste that is sent to landfills and incinerators, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve valuable space.

Furthermore, when postcards are recycled instead of disposed of, it creates a circular economy where materials are reused rather than discarded. This can save energy and reduce the environmental impact that comes with producing new products from scratch.

What Can You Do to Reduce Postcard Waste?

One of the best ways to reduce postcard waste is to use electronic alternatives, such as e-cards or online messages. These options are not only more sustainable but also more convenient and cost-effective. If you do decide to use traditional postcards, consider choosing ones made from recycled materials or without coatings.

This helps to reduce the environmental burden associated with producing new paper products. Additionally, it’s important to encourage others to recycle or reuse their postcards and educate them about the importance of sustainable waste management.

By taking these steps, we can all make a positive contribution toward reducing our ecological footprint.


In conclusion, postcard recycling is doable, but it depends on the type of postcard and the regional recycling facilities. If you’re not sure whether your postcards can be recycled, it’s important to check with your local recycling center or waste management company.

Additionally, you can reduce postcard waste by reusing them or disposing of them responsibly. With these small changes to our daily habits, we can all contribute to creating a more sustainable and eco-friendly future.

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