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 I have a stack of carbonless copy forms that I can't use. Is it harmful to recycle this kind of paper?

Posted on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010

Quick answer: Nope, carbonless paper can be safely recycled like most other paper.

What is carbonless paper?

Carbonless paper is typically used when filling out forms. It consists of sheets of paper (usually of different colors) that are coated with micro-encapsulated dye or ink and/or reactive clay. Pressure applied to the top sheet breaks tiny micro-capsules on the backside of the paper, which then react with the clay on the top the next sheet to form a permanent mark. This is repeated for however many sheets are in the stack, often resulting in stronger markings near the top sheet and fainter markings near the bottom sheet. Carbonless paper can be used for longhand as well as mechanical writing, such as typewriters.

Carbonless paper should not be confused with carbon paper, a black inky sheet placed between two sheets of paper to make a pressure copy. Carbon paper cannot be recycled.

Tags: Office supplies, Paper

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The Basics:
  • Recycling: paper, plastic (#1-#7), glass, aluminum, tin. Look for BLUE.
  • Compost: food waste, biodegradable material, (if it was once alive, it can be composted!). Look for GREEN.
  • Landfill waste: everything else! Look for RED or BLACK.
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