July 16

Can you recycle post-it notes? What to do when you’re done with them?


Sticky notes are a convenient way to take down a quick note or reminder. They’re also handy for leaving messages for other people. But what do you do with them when you’re done? Can they be recycled? What makes some post-it notes recyclable while others non-recyclable? And what can you do with them once you’re done using them?

Here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know about post-it notes and recycling.


What are Post-it notes made of?

Post-it notes are typically made from paper that has been coated with a mild adhesive. This adhesive allows the note to stick to surfaces like walls and refrigerators but can be easily removed without damaging the surface or leaving a sticky residue.

The paper used for Post-it notes is usually recycled paper, but the adhesive coating makes them difficult to recycle. The adhesive has to be removed from the paper before it can be recycled, and this is not always possible.


Can you recycle paper that has glue on it?

The short answer is yes, but it can be tricky. If the glue is on the back of the paper (like with a Post-it note), it can usually be removed and the paper recycled. However, if the glue is on the front of the paper, it’s more difficult to remove and the paper may not be able to be recycled.


Can you recycle Post-it notes?

Yes and no. Some recycling programs will accept Post-it notes, but others will not. It depends on the type of adhesive used and whether or not the paper can be recycled. One important thing to remember is that even if the paper can be recycled, the adhesive coating must be removed first. The best thing to do in this case is to always ask the retailer for recyclable post-it notes, so you always buy the right one.

If you’re not sure whether or not your local recycler will accept Post-it notes, check with them first. It does sound tricky, but it’s important to know what can and cannot be recycled in order to help reduce waste.


What about Post-it notes with plastic backing?

If you want to recycle sticky notes with plastic backing, then I’m afraid that’s not gonna happen. The plastic backing is made from a different type of plastic than the paper, and the two materials are bonded together with adhesive. This makes it difficult to separate the two materials, so they can’t be recycled together.


How long do sticky notes last?

Well, that depends. If you store them in a cool, dry place, they should last for several years. However, if they’re exposed to sunlight or heat, the adhesive will break down and the notes will lose their stickiness. But in all honesty, do you really need to keep that Post-it note from 3 years ago?

For more practical purposes, most people use and dispose of their sticky notes within a few months, and with the number of sticky notes being produced every year, that adds up to a lot of waste. If we’re talking about sticky notes that you can remove the adhesive and recycle, that’s one thing, but if we’re talking about sticky notes that are going to end up in the landfill (for whatever reason), that’s another issue entirely.


Are sticky notes harmful to the environment?

As I mentioned, the answer to this question depends on what kind of sticky note you use. If you’re using a recyclable sticky note, then no, it’s not harmful to the environment, and you can safely recycle them. However, if you’re using a non-recyclable sticky note, then yes, it is harmful to the environment.

When you throw away a non-recyclable sticky note, it goes to the landfill, where it will sit for years and years, slowly filling up space that could be used for other things. And as the adhesive on the sticky note decomposes, it releases harmful chemicals into the environment.

You might be thinking “but it’s just a small piece of paper, how could it be that harmful?” But when you consider the billions of sticky notes that are produced every year and the fact that even if they’re eco-friendly sticky notes (the ones with sustainable materials) we casually throw them away without a second thought, it starts to add up.


Did you know?

The first Post-it notes were invented in 1968 by a chemist called Dr. Spencer Silver. He was looking for a way to create an adhesive that would stick to things but could also be repositioned multiple ways without losing their “sticky-ness”.

The original Post-it notes were made with a weak adhesive so that they could be easily removed and reused.


Are sticky notes compostable?

Again, if the sticky notes themselves are made from recycled paper and the adhesive is water-based and biodegradable, then they are compostable. However, if the sticky notes are made from an inorganic material or the adhesive is petroleum-based, then they are not compostable.

Bear in mind that composting will take longer for sticky notes than it would for regular paper, as the adhesive will need to break down first.


Tell me the best way to re-use sticky notes?

Cover Lights

Light bulbs often have a glare that can be annoying, especially when you’re trying to sleep. A great way to fix this is to stick a few old sticky notes around the light bulb to diffuse the light and reduce the glare.

Sticky Tab Dividers

If you want an easy way to make your own sticky tab dividers, all you need is a stack of Post-it notes and a pair of scissors. Cut the Post-it notes in half, then write whatever you want on the top of each one. Stick them in your notebook or planner to help keep yourself organized.

Remove lint from your clothes

Lint rollers are great, but they can be expensive, and they usually come with just a few sheets. A cheaper and more sustainable alternative is to use Post-it notes. Just stick the adhesive side of the Post-it to your clothing and lint will adhere to it. When you’re done, peel it off and throw it away. You can even reuse the same Post-it a few times before throwing it away.

Make party decorations

It seems strange, but you can actually make some pretty cool party decorations using Post-it notes. Check out this tutorial to learn about the different decorations you can make with post-its (or even normal paper!)

Collect Sawdust

This is really helpful if you’re a woodworker or if you just like making things with your hands. Post-it notes are excellent for collecting sawdust so you can dispose of it properly later. Just stick the adhesive side of the Post-it to your work surface and the sawdust will adhere to it. When you’re done, you can easily throw them in the recycling bin. You can also stick one to the bottom of your drill to collect the sawdust as you’re drilling.

Create a box

If you need a small box to hold something like jewelry or coins, you can easily make one using Post-it notes. Just take a stack of used sticky notes and fold them into a box shape. Then, use another sticky note to secure the bottom of the box.

Use them as drink coasters

If you’re having a party or gathering and you don’t have enough coasters, Post-it notes make great substitutes. Just stick them to the top of your table or counter and put your drinks on top of them. When you’re done, peel them off and throw them away.

Mark your page

If you’re reading a book and you want to mark your place like a bookmark, Post-it notes are perfect for that. You can even write a note on the Post-it so you can remember what you were reading about when you come back to it later.


How do you get rid of Post-it Notes?

Ultimately, no matter how many uses you get out of your Post-it notes, you’re going to have to throw them away at some point. But before you do, there are a few things you can do to make sure they’re disposed of properly.

If your sticky notes are made from recycled paper and the adhesive is water-based and biodegradable, then you can compost them. This should always be your first choice when disposing of used sticky notes.

If your sticky notes are not compostable, you can still recycle them. Just make sure to remove the adhesive strip first and recycle it separately. The paper part of the sticky note can be recycled with regular paper.

And finally, if your sticky notes are not recyclable, then you’re left with nothing but the option to throw them in the trash. However, make sure that for future purchases, you always choose sticky notes that are made from recycled paper and have a water-based adhesive. This way, you can be sure that they’re recyclable and won’t end up in the landfill.


Final Thoughts

Post-it notes are one of those office supplies that we all take for granted. But as you can see, re-using them and disposing of them in a sustainable way is actually quite easy (and important). So next time you reach for a sticky note, think about all the different ways you can use it before you throw it away and always be sure to recycle or compost it whenever you can instead of disposing of them in the trash can. A small change like this can make a big difference in the long run!


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