Are Staples Recyclable? (And Process to Recycle Staples)

If you work with a lot of paper, staples are not strange objects to you. Staples are those thin and sharp objects you use to hold paper together. They come in different sizes and shapes.

The funny thing about staples is that they can end up in shocking places. While some stay affixed to paper, others may hang around your tables, drawers, floor, or waste bins. In the end, the staples you dispose of will end up in landfills.

It is not an entirely perfect thing for the staples you use to end up in landfills. These sharp metal pieces cling to many objects, making it hard for you to dispose of those objects properly.

So, what can you do instead? We bet the last thing coming to your mind is recycling. After all, staples are quite tiny. And you might even have trouble picking them up.

But, have you honestly asked yourself, are staples recyclable. Well, that is why we are here.  In this article, we will answer the question. We will also consider whether natural elements can break down staples and what to do with pins fastened to other objects.

Can You Recycle Staples?

We use a lot of staples daily. Offices, homes, and schools are some of the largest users of staples. You may wonder if you can recycle waste staples or staples you attach to other materials.

Well, the first thing you will have to understand is that staples can come from many objects. The most popular staples you see around are usually metal products. They come from different components of steel. Also, some office staples are zinc-plated steel products, while others are stainless steel products.

Newer forms of staples come from plastic. Even more, some staples are now a mixture of plastic and steel.

However, regardless of the staple you use, one thing is sure. It is POSSIBLE TO RECYCLE all kinds of staples completely.

You can recycle your steel staples alongside other steel products you use like cans and pots.

Step-By-Step Process to Recycle Staples

Here is the process of recycling steel staples.

1. Collection

This process involves gathering steel staples and putting them up for recyclers to process. You can keep waste staples in a container or bin and drop them off at steel recycling collection points.

We understand that staples are small and elusive. So, many of them may not end up in your bin. Given this, there are other ways to put up your steel staples for recycling.

You can gather your staples through magnetic recovery. This process involves using a magnet to find waste staples among your other domestic waste. This way, you can pick your steel staples easily and at a low cost.

2. Sorting

This step involves separating recyclable steel from other materials that the staple may contain. If your staple composes of steel and plastic, recyclers separate the plastic from the steel during this process.

3. Compacting

Recyclers pack your sorted staples together in this process using machines. Compacting makes it easier to recycle the pins since they divide the combined metals into batches.

4. Shredding

Here, machines divide the batches of staples into tiny fragments, smaller than the staples themselves.

5. Heating

The metal pieces undergo burning at high temperatures. In this process, your steel staples become liquid steel, and it becomes possible to process them into other materials.

6. Refining

This process removes dirt and impurities from liquid metals. If these impurities remain in liquid steel, it may affect the quality of end products.

7. Solidifying

The last process involves cooling the melted steel. The solid steel can now undergo processing to transform it into useful products.

If you’re lucky, after the entire recycling process, you’ll get your staples back as another set of staples. If not, be sure it’s being put into fair use elsewhere without being a litter.

Are Staples Biodegradable?

As you already know, staples either come from steel or plastic. These materials usually end up in landfills. However, the critical question is whether these materials are biodegradable.

Biodegradable materials are those materials that break down from the natural effect of microorganisms. In turn, they fade into the soil.

So, the truth is that staples are NOT biodegradable. Steel staples are metal products, and microorganisms cannot act upon them. Steel staples may break and rust, but they cannot decompose. Some of them peel off into the air after a lot of years.

Similarly, plastic staples are not also biodegradable. Plastics staples come from petrochemicals meaning microorganisms cannot break them down. However, plastic pins may melt away because of heat from the sun. This melting process may take time, just like metals.

Now you know that staples are not biodegradable. You may consider learning about other natural effects on staples. The next section tells you about the connection between another biological process and staples.

Are Staples Compostable?

Your staples are non-biodegradable materials. This feature means that they cannot decompose, even though they may melt or fade away because of heat and wind. Another essential characteristic of staples you must know is whether they are compostable or not.

We understand that biodegrading and composting may confuse you. You don’t have to worry; we’ll crunch the data for you. An element is biodegradable when microorganisms can cause it to break down completely. Compostable materials, on the other hand, are those natural materials that break down and release nutrients to the soil.

While all materials that produce compost can break down, not all such elements supply nutrients to the soil.

As such, staples are NOT USUALLY compostable. More so, steel and plastic staples cannot break down by the action of microbes. So, they can’t release any nutrients to the environment.

Given that staples cannot biodegrade or transform into compost, it is best if you recycle them.


Can You Recycle Staples with Paper?

Since it is possible to recycle staples, it is also essential to know if recycling can occur with your staple in paper material. Almost everyone holds paper with staples, so this question is not out of place.

Generally, you can recycle staples with paper. You may also prefer to take out the staples from the paper.

However, if you leave staples in a paper, they will be separated when recyclers take your paper for recycling. Recyclers then separate staples from the paper and process both objects independently.

Also, if you decide to remove your staple, ensure you do so correctly. This way, your staples do not fall off and end up in waste bins. You can then drop off your staple pins at metal recycling facilities or collection points.

Can You Recycle Cardboard with Staples?

You can treat cardboards almost the same way you treat paper. If you wish to recycle your staples while in cardboards, you may leave them.

During sorting, recyclers will separate all the metal materials in your cardboard, including staples. That way, they can recycle the staples differently from your cardboards.

However, if you recycle your cardboard with staples in it, be sure to remove any tape. You may also decide to remove the staple pins yourself. If you do, carefully gather the staples to avoid misplacing them.

Are Staples Bad for the Environment?

You may be thinking that staples are too small to cause any harm. However, have you thought about the number of staples we produce daily all over the world? We’re here to help you make sense of the effect of the staples you use.

Staples are not entirely dangerous, but if you use them in the wrong way, they may cause much damage. Here are some potential harms that staples may cause to you and the environment.

1. Pollution

You tend to use lots of staples in a year, and because they are small, it is tough to track the amount you use. If these staples end up in landfills, they can mix with other materials.

Then, when they rust or melt, they may wash off into oceans. Also, since they don’t easily break down, they can litter the environment.

2. Global Warming

As expected, you use staples with staplers. The manufacturing process of staplers leads to the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide. Since carbon dioxide is a primary reason for global warming, staples in their little way contribute to global warming.

3. Personal Injury

If you are not careful when using staples, you may harm yourself. This harm may become worse if you allow children to play with these objects. While this is not a harm to the environment, it is one way that staples may affect your health and well-being.

How Long Does it Take for Staples to Decompose?

Staples do not decompose like other organic materials. Instead, they can fade away into the air. If they are plastic objects, they can melt under the sun’s heat. Either way, this process will take a long time.

Your staples come from elements that require large amounts of heat and wind pressure from nature before they breakdown. And as you know, our environment may not produce as much pressure as they need.

However, we estimate that your staples can break down in a hundred years. During that period, continuous pressure will make it possible for your staples to break down. If they end up in areas where there is not much access to sunlight or wind, they may take longer.

So, the environment will determine how long your staples may take to decompose.

What Can You Do with Staples? (Alternative Ways)

If you have staples you find hard to dispose of or recycle; there are quite a few things staples are useful for asides stapling. So, before you throw your staples away, consider using them for some of the following purposes.

1. Staple Remover

You don’t have to use your teeth or nails to get staples off your paper. You can use other staples to get rid of staples on your paper.

2. Decorations

You can make art pieces and collages with your waste staple. They provide metal where you need one and can make an excellent piece for your art.

3. Paperweight

If you have trouble with your paper blowing off each time, you can place staples on them. As small as they look, staples in small quantities can support your paper.

4. Nutcracker

Your staples can crack nuts. You can make use of your staples to break nuts or other similar objects.

You can easily experiment with your staples through these steps. You are sure of satisfaction if you take advantage of these alternative uses.

Final Thoughts

Staples keep your paper from flying around your home or office. While they can prove very useful, they can also contribute to litter if you don’t properly manage them.

So, the next time you have waste staples, do not just toss them around. Keep them properly and ensure you recycle. The good thing is, this article already explained how.

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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.