Are Binders Recyclable? (And Ways To Reuse Old Binders)

Binders are one of the best ways to keep your school or office material organized. And thanks to their relevance, they have witnessed increased use in recent times. You’ll find binders among professors, college students, and graduate students, among others. Even more, beyond academia, people use it to keep bills and documents in both offices and at home.

However, regardless of their usefulness, they have a lifespan. And, of course, won’t last forever. So, what happens when the lifespan of your binder comes to an end? Can you recycle your binder? If you can recycle used binders, how can you recycle it?

We bet that these are all questions that you have in mind. Well, they are valid. For one, thanks to the increase in the use of binders, there are more binders out there. In turn, it would be unsafe and harmful to the ecosystem to dispose of your binder the wrong way.

As such, in this article, we answer questions as to whether you can recycle a binder. Still, we don’t stop there. We also answer other related and vital questions that you might have. We’ll tell you whether you can recycle folders. We’ll also tell you if you can recycle a plastic three-ring binder. Then, we’ll end with the various ways through which you can reuse the binders.

Dive in!

Can You Recycle the Binders?

Today, there are a variety of binders out there. And they come from different materials. These materials include thick cardboard wrapped in plastic with a metal ring-lock bar placed in the middle. Due to these various materials, many people toss their binders into the trashcan when worn out. People do this out of the general notion that you cannot recycle a binder.

However, there is no truth in such a notion or belief. The reality is that you can very well recycle your binders. In fact, you can do it yourself in a step by step process. That said, we will take you through a do-it-yourself step by step process of recycling your binder.

The first step to recycling your binder is through the process of de-manufacturing. What this implies is that you disassemble the binders. This way, each material is independent and is ready to get recycled. To do this, follow the steps below.

  • Firstly, you need to remove the ring-lock bar between the binder. You can remove this metal ring lock with a hammer. When trying to remove the ring lock bar, do well to follow adequate safety measures.
  • The inside of the binder has a covering of vinyl fabrics. You’ll need to remove this covering. And to remove the vinyl, you need a paper cutter.
  • After removing the vinyl fabrics, you have come to the final step. Once you have removed the vinyl, the cardboard or plastic becomes exposed. With this, you can easily remove the cardboard or plastic.

You should know that these steps are do-it-yourself steps and do not need to call a specialist for assistance.

Now, upon completing the steps, you’ll be left with three things. They are the thick chipboard or plastic, the metal rings-lock, and the vinyl fabric. Afterward, you can deliver the chipboard or the plastic to any regular curbside recycling site. The metal ring lock then finds its way to a scrap metal site. You’ll then be left with the vinyl fiber. Unfortunately, you cannot recycle this, and it will have to end up in a landfill.

Through de-manufacturing the binders, you’ve been able to get the recyclable chipboard and metal. You have also successfully reduced the quantity of waste.

Are Three Rings Plastic Binder Recyclable?

Typically, a three-ring binder usually comes from metal. It wasn’t until recently that plastic three binders came into use. Usually, these plastic binders have a different construction. As such, if your binder is a plastic three-ring binder, the dismembering process is different.

If your binder is a three rings metal binder, you can separate the plastic from the other materials that comprise the binder. You can dump your cardboard on the curbside. The vinyl fiber will get to landfills.

The real problem arises as to what to do with the plastic ring binder. Unlike the metal ring binder that you can dump at a metal scrap sit, the three-ring plastic binder requires a unique recycling method. The best way to recycle your plastic three rings binding is to locate the consumers’ vinyl materials recycling center near you.

Can Notebook Binders Be Recycled?

Notebooks are an excellent piece for almost everyone, particularly for students and busy professionals. Notebooks or steno pads are fondly called have a cardboard cover, which is wire-bind to the papers.

When you consider the notebook binder composition, one will be left to wonder if you can recycle it. The answer to this question is Yes! The notebook binder, unlike the regular binder, does not have a lot of materials. The notebook binder comprises paper, cardboard, and spiral bind, which could be plastic or iron coil. As such, you can easily get to recycling.

However, note that recycling companies will reject a paper with high pigment because it may contain “beater dyes.” These dyes in such a paper may be relatively much for the paper manufacturing company to altogether remove during turning recycled paper back into new products. In turn, these dark-colored papers can destroy a whole bundle of white paper. And that’s why they get rejected.

Regardless, here’s what to keep in mind.

If your notebook binder comes from metal, you can easily recycle it with every other metal piece in your house. Again, it advisable that you take the metal piece to the recycling site instead of dumping it at the curbside.

If your notebook binder comes from plastic, do well to detach it from the notebook and dispose of it in your waste-bin. The reason behind this is because you cannot recycle the plastic coil from your notebook binder.

In some places, when you want to recycle your notebook binder, you’ll get the chance to leave the binder notebook. While in some communities, you need to detach either the plastic or metal binder before dumping the notebook in the trash can.

Source: Canva

Are Folders Recyclable?

Folders come mostly from paper, and this makes them one of the most comfortable materials to recycle. So, do you have a file that got stained by food or spilled coffee, or just worn out in your office? There is no need to dump such a folder in your trash can; you can recycle them.

You should note that you can recycle folders within your office. You can also recycle your folder by delivering such a worn folder to the curbside. For you to do this the first way, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Make sure you remove all sticky notes, paper clips, and staples from your folder.
  2. The next step is to trim off any labels from your old folders. After that, use your paper cutter to divide the folders in half at the center.
  3. Take the divided folder to your office shredding machine. Shred the material into a clean container.
  4. The last step is to collect the shredded residues, which you can later use for packing things in a parcel.

Alternatively, you can decide to send the folder to a curbside recycling program. All you need to do is follow the process below.

  1. The first stage is to remove all your plastic tapes, pins, and paper clips from the worn-out file.
  2. Should there be any plastic in the folder, dump them in a different recycling can.
  3. Finally, the last stage is to put the folder in your paper recycling trash can for delivery to the curbside.

As a precautionary measure, when you want to recycle your folder, turn it inside out. This will prevent you from damaging essential documents.

Again, you can reuse your folder by merely turning it inside out. And you can do this to folders, which is inside is still in decent condition. All you need to do is to write or place identification on the turned folder. This will give the folder double life.

7 Clever Ways To Reuse Old Binders

If your binder looks worn-out and you’ve just dumped in your home, it’s time to pick it up. There are ways in which you can revamp your old looking binders. And we’ve got you covered on this. Here are some of the ways you can reuse your binders.

1. Re-Wrap

You can stripe the old and worn cover that serves as the cover of the binder. Once you’ve done the stripping, you can rewrap with any material of your choice. To spice it up, you can rewrap it with one of your old fabrics. This is also a means of recycling your old clothes.

2. Repaint

Another thing you can do with the unwrapped binder is to paint with Acrylic paints. With this, you can give it whatsoever taste that tickles your fancy.

3. Storage Box

If you’re the crafty type, you can remodel your binder into a box for the storage of documents. To do this, you need to remove the metal ring with a plier. Then, once you’ve done this, shape into a rectangle and glue together with a strong adhesive.

4. Canvas

You can also use a binder as a canvas for artists. Artists can also use it as a palette for paint mixing.

5. Kitchen Utensils

You can also use a binder as a kitchen utensil. For instance, you can use a binder can as a chopping board. However, you must first remove the rings.

6. Wall Hanger

You can use the ring of the binder as a wall hanger. All you’ll need to do is shape it to take the form of a hanger where necessary. You can also use it as a hook bar for clothes, keys, etc.

7. Organizer

When you remove the ring, you can use your binder for organizing cords and cable. This will help you to keep them neatly packed and tidy.

The great thing about all that we’ve listed so far is their ease of use. You can easily apply your binder to all these quickly and easily, all by yourself. However, ensure you take adequate safety measures when you’re dismembering your binder.


Binders generate a lot of plastic waste. Even more, you cannot effortlessly recycle its materials by mere curbside dumping. It consists of various properties such as vinyl, metal rings, and cardboard. Usually, you’ll need to separate all these diverse properties for effective recycling.

Still, that shouldn’t stop you. This is because you need to recycle binders properly to create an eco-friendly society. Regardless, if you cannot go through the stress of recycling, you can reuse your binders for various purposes. This way, you can reduce the amount of waste that makes it to the landfills.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.