Can paper towels and napkins be recycled?

Can paper towels and napkins be recycled?

By Laura Dattaro

How does it work

Paper towels cannot be recycled in the way that other paper products are recycled. They are usually already made from recycled paper and since it is a recycled product, its fibers continue to shrink. Recycling paper towels would also pose bacteria and food residue problems as they are used to clean up clutter.


While paper towels cannot be recycled at most recycling plants, they can be used for composting and mulching. Composting can be a slow process, but it is an inexpensive way to obtain high-quality soil to use in gardens. Paper towels can be added to compost as they break down easily and are made from recycled fibers.

To reuse

Most people throw away paper towels after using them once, but they are designed to be strong enough for multiple uses. If a towel is not completely saturated or dirty, save it for reuse. Rinse it off with water, squeeze out excess water, and let it dry with a clothespin. Towels that are only used for cleaning dry soils can be stored and reused without rinsing.

Garbage disposal

Some waste disposal companies will accept paper towels as part of your garden trash, since they break down in this environment. Check with your local service provider to see if they offer this option. If so, save the paper towels and place them along with grass clippings and other yard debris.


Composting or reusing paper towels reduces the amount of trash, as paper towels break down easily. Reusing them saves money and encourages environmental practices, while composting offers a cheap and healthy way to bring a patio or garden to life. Because paper towels are already made from recycled fibers, it is important to find ways to continue recycling and thus fully reuse a product cycle. It also helps reduce the production of household waste.

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