DMA: Data and Marketing Association
Consumer Help

For Consumers

What is DMA’s ‘Recycle Please’ Campaign”?

“Recycle Please” is a nationwide public education campaign managed by the Data & Marketing Association to encourage you to recycle catalogs, magazines, direct mail pieces, and paper packaging among other items, when you are finished reading and using them. Even digital devices used for email, social media and electronic commerce can be recycled safely when they are ready to be replaced.

What Types of Paper Products are Recyclable?

  • Catalogs and magazines
  • Direct mail, envelopes, unsorted household and office mail (mixed papers)
  • Newspapers
  • Computer paper and higher grade (office) paper
  • Corrugated paper (boxes)
  • Paper board packaging

Always check with your local recycling facility to determine what materials your community will accept for recycling, since some types of paper are harder to recycle than others. For example, papers coated with plastic or aluminum foil, and papers that are waxed, pasted, or gummed are usually not recycled because the process is too expensive. More than two-thirds of communities in the United States now have curbside or local drop-off sites for mixed papers and other types of paper and packaging – a portion that is growing.

What Tips Should I Know about Paper Recycling”?

Before recycling catalogs, magazines, direct mail and paper packaging:

  • Sort different types of paper, such as newspapers and cardboard boxes, if required by your community.
  • Make sure the paper is clean, dry, and free of food, most plastic, wax, and other contamination.
  • Remove stickers, inserts, product samples (e.g. CDs, perfumes) and/or plastic “membership” cards.
  • Because of new technology, plastic window envelopes and staples are generally okay to recycle, but remove any binder clips or paperclips before recycling.
  • Double check with your community to determine what recycled material they will and will not accept. The Web site www.Earth911.com maintains a current list by locale.

Where Can I Get More Information on Paper, Mail, Catalog, Magazine and Paper Packaging Recycling (Including Recycling Locations)?

  • American Forest & Paper Association: paperrecycles.org
  • Earth 911: To view your local recycling solutions for paper, CLICK HERE to use the Earth911 paper recycling locator (outside the DMA website; opens in a new window). For recycling information on other products, search Earth911.com.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: epa.gov
  • National Recycling Coalition (NRC): nrcrecycles.org
  • 1•800•Recycling: 1800Recycling.com
  • Waste Management: wm.com

What about Recycling Electronics?

Digital and electronics equipment used by consumers also can be – and should be – recycled

Did you know that known hazardous materials, and highly valuable precious metals, are part of many computers and mobile devices?

That’s why it’s important to reuse, recycle and responsibly dispose of all electronics. Never put batteries, electronic devices or fluorescent light bulbs in the trash. They contain materials that must be recycled in order to protect human health and the environment.

You can recycle most electronics for free at one of the many local retailers.

Consumers may also contact their local government recycling coordinator for information on special “drop off” dates or instructions.

To learn where and how to responsibly recycle computers, batteries, TVs and other personal electronic devices, visit these links.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Earth911 Recycling Locator Tool

Looking for electronics recycling information for businesses?

10 Facts about Paper and Direct Mail You May Not Know

  • Paper is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable.
  • Paper is made from a sustainable resource — our forests. The amount of U.S. forestland today is about the same as it was in the early 1900s.
  • The wood and paper industry plants more than 1.7 million tree seedlings every day — more than 600 million tree seedlings a year.
  • Paper can be recycled into a wide variety of products, including cereal boxes, egg cartons, pencil barrels, grocery bags, tissue paper and home insulation.
  • 87% of Americans have access to community curbside and/or drop-off paper and paper-based packaging recycling
  • In 2012, 65.1 percent of the paper consumed in the United States was recovered for recycling.
  • Direct mail accounts for approximately 1.1 percent of the total municipal solid waste generated in the United States annually.
  • By replacing just two shopping trips to the mall each year by buying at home through a catalog, Americans can eliminate 3.3 billion driving miles, reduce emissions by 3 billion pounds, and save more than $490 million on gas costs.
  • Direct mail is a cost-effective way for small businesses to enter the marketplace and to compete against larger companies that can afford huge multimedia campaigns.
  • Nonprofits raise billions of dollars for charitable causes through direct mail.

What Happens to the Paper you Recycle?

When you recycle paper, paper mills use it to make primarily containerboard, followed by boxboard and tissue. A smaller percentage is used for newsprint and printing and writing papers. Today, more than 36 percent of the fiber used to make new paper products in the United States comes from recycled paper.

Paper mills may also use wood chips and sawdust left over from lumber operations to make paper products.

Paper can only be recycled a certain number of times before the paper fibers break down, therefore use of virgin wood fiber will always be necessary

How much Paper is Recycled/Recovered vs. Landfilled in the U.S.?

In 2011, Americans recycled and recovered 52.8 million tons of the paper, averaging 338 pounds per person, according to the American Forest & Products Association (AF&PA). This is record-high recovery rate of 66.8 percent. This is an impressive amount of recovered fiber, but there is still room for improvement, especially given that 18.4 million tons were landfilled in 2011.

Direct mail is a small and declining part of the overall solid waste stream, making up less than 2 percent of the total municipal solid waste discarded. This figure is likely to decline as greater strides are continually being made in paper recovery and recycling.

Is Using Paper Bad for the Environment?

Using paper products is not bad for the environment because you’re using a natural product that’s renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and from a sustainable resource – our forests. The wood and paper industry more than makes up for what it harvests by managing forests and planting more than 1.7 million tree seedlings every day – more than 600 million tree seedlings a year.

As a society, we have made great strides over the past decade in using our resources more efficiently, increasing recycling efforts, and improving forest management.

In 1920, there were an estimated 732 million acres of forest covering the area that now comprises the United States. Today there are 751 million acres of forest. The current forested area is within one percent of the forest area of the estimated 755 million to 760 million acres that existed in 1907.

Sometimes, environmental claims are made between paper and digital choices. Usually, digital media are presented as environmentally preferable. In reality, however, both print and digital media have environmental impacts that must be considered by consumers and businesses. Rarely, the environmental impact of digital media is documented – so “green” claims are unsubstantiated and comparisons to print media cannot be demonstrated. Thankfully, recycling options exist for both these materials, and increasingly exist nationwide.

Why is Paper Important?

Paper plays an integral part in our daily lives. Yet many of us take for granted how paper allows us to enjoy our lives and go about our daily routines with greater efficiency. Think of all the ways and places we use paper — in the home (for example, tissue, paper towels, diapers, cereal boxes, juice cartons, toilet paper), in school (in notebook paper and textbooks), and at work (office papers, brochures, notepads) — just to name a few.