Can You Recycle Glossy Paper? (And Is It Compostable?)

Though development in today’s world has gone wildly viral in all phases, there are still some things we are yet to dispense. And one of those things is paper. We use paper almost every day for different things.

The type of paper we use is different, but for today, we are considering the specially made form known as glossy paper.

For this post, we are going to consider many environmental effects of glossy paper.

Notably, we will see if you can recycle or compost your glossy papers. We will also walk you through the biodegradable rate of glossy papers. Finally, we will consider whether you can recycle glossy cardboards and whether glossy papers are bad for the environment.

As you can see, this post is filled with a lot of valuable information for you to munch.  So, what do you do? Relax why we walk you through all these.

If you are ready, let’s go.

Is Glossy Paper Recyclable?

Glossy papers are a special kind of paper. Though they also come from tree pulp, they have a shining texture. This texture makes them separate from other types of papers.

This shining texture results from additives like resins or minerals that have been added during the production process.

It is this state of things that confuses many people, and they wonder if they can recycle it.

Well, if you are one of those people, today marks the end of your uncertainty.

Yes, you can recycle glossy papers. Glossy papers are merely papers that have shiny surfaces due to some additives. Many recycling companies would gladly receive glossy papers for recycling.

For many glossy papers, the additives are natural, which is fine clay. In the recycling process, recycling companies only need to employ a unique method to wash off the clay. This way, the papers would become fit to be recycled.

However, there is still a note of caution. Not all glossy papers are recyclable. The reason for this is because not all glossy papers have natural additives like fine clay. Many glossy papers have plastic coatings.

Where glossy paper has plastic coatings, it is not recyclable. This is because the process of recycling paper requires that the paper be soaked until it breaks down. It is when it breaks down that it would then be recycled.

For papers that have plastic coatings, the plastic would prevent it from breaking down. And if it does not break down; recyclers can’t recycle it.

The implication of this is for you not to drop all glossy papers in the recycling bin. But then, how do you know which glossy papers have been coated with plastics?

There is are simple tests for that.

All you have to do is try to tear the glossy paper. If you can easily tear it, then you can recycle it. If you can’t, it is because it has been coated with plastic.

Another test is for you to try to rumple the paper. If the glossy paper stays rumpled, it means that you can recycle it. If it immediately straightens back. It means that it is most likely coated with plastic.

There is yet another test. This test is by you soaking a piece of glossy paper in water. You can cut out a part of the paper with scissors, and get a bowl of water and toss the paper in it. Leave it for some hours and check back later.

If you notice that the papers are beginning to fall apart or have fallen apart, they can be recycled. If the paper remains the way you put it in water, it has most likely been coated with plastic.

The above tests are what you can do in your home to know whether you can toss that glossy paper in the recycling bin.

Lastly, you may not be able to recycle your glossy paper if they are stained. When paper gets stained, the recycling station separates it and don’t bother recycling it. This is because the stained paper can contaminate the whole recyclables.

Hence, if you have glossy papers that contain oil stain or paint stains, you shouldn’t put them in your recycling bin. If your glossy papers have also been stained with chemicals, it is better not to put them in the recycling bin.

Is Glossy Paper Compostable?

You probably know that composting paper shouldn’t be a big deal. What is a big deal is the appearance of the glossy paper. You are not sure if you can compost it.

Well, the answer to this question is in the affirmative. You can always compost your glossy paper. As much as possible, you can toss your glossy papers in the compost bin, and you would have nothing to worry about after this.

For faster results, you can shred the glossy paper before you toss it in your compost bin.

This looks very easy, right? However, there is another angle to this. And that is that not all glossy papers are compostable.

Remember, we pointed out that you cannot recycle glossy papers that have been coated with plastic. The same principle applies here. If you have glossy papers that have plastic coatings, don’t toss them in your compost bin.

The reason for this simple. Plastic materials take a too long time to break down. You wouldn’t want to wait for hundreds of years before you get your compost materials. So, you should remove them entirely from the compost bin.

You already know the tests for determining whether a glossy paper has a plastic coating. You should subject that glossy paper to the test before throwing it into the compost bin.

Again, if your glossy papers have been stained, you may want to exclude them from the compost bin. Otherwise, they would contaminate your entire compost and make a mess of it. So, you have to watch out for glossy papers with oil, chemicals, and paint stain.

Lastly, if your glossy paper is not coated with plastic and is not stained, you still need to be watchful. Not all glossy papers can enter your compost bin.

The glossy papers that have been colored may not be a proper fit for your compost bin. This is because the color on the paper may contain some toxic chemics. If you put this in your compost bin, the poisonous chemical would leach and contaminate the compost bin. Where this happens, you are endangering your plants and flowers if you use the compost for them.

In all, you have to be careful of the glossy paper you put in the compost bin. But generally, glossy papers that are not in the categories that we have discussed for exclusion above are fit to enter your compost bin.

Is Glossy Paper Biodegradable?

Papers generally are one of the fastest materials that are readily biodegradable. This is because they are from plants and have thin fibers. Glossy papers, too, are not excluded.

Generally, glossy papers are biodegradable. The fact that they contain fine clay that makes them shiny doesn’t prevent them from being biodegradable.

Averagely, a glossy paper takes between 4 and 8 weeks to biodegrade. So, you can see that they seem to be great friends with the environment.

However, this is not as simple as it seems. The fact that not all glossy papers contain fine clay that makes them shine creates an exclusion. Many glossy papers have plastic coatings, and this is where the problems set in.

For glossy papers of this type, they take a too long time. The reason for this is simple. The plastic coatings on the glossy paper will prevent it from breaking down. Plastics generally take hundreds of years to break down. This means that glossy papers with plastic coatings can last as long as the plastic remains in place.

So, you can see that while glossy papers are generally biodegradable, there are the ones with plastic coatings that are not.

Knowing this would help you choose the kind of glossy paper to use.

Is Glossy Cardboard Recyclable?

Glossy cardboard is also paper material. The difference is that they contain thicker paper fiber.

For glossy cardboard, the position is that they are recyclable. You can always toss them in your recycling bin.

However, if the glossy cardboards are coated with plastic, you cannot recycle them. The reason we advanced for glossy papers with plastic coatings also applies here.

Also, glossy papers with stains of oil, paint, or chemical are not fit for the recycling bin.

In all, the test you subject the ordinary glossy paper is also applicable here.

Is Glossy Paper Bad For The Environment?

Whether or not glossy papers are bad for the environment is something that requires careful consideration.  This is because knowing this would inform our use of glossy paper.

There are two sides to the answer, and we shall consider both sides.

The First Positive Side: For this side, the argument is that glossy paper is not bad for the environment. And the reason for this is simple. If you consider only the glossy papers made with fine clays and are without toxic colors, you can say that this side makes sense.

Generally, glossy papers of this type do not affect the environment. The only effect that might be raised is the fact that we cut down trees to make paper. Aside from this, all is well with glossy papers.

The Second Negative Side: For this side, the argument is that glossy papers are bad for the environment. The reason for their position is simple too.

Not all glossy papers have fine clay that makes them shiny. Those that do not have fine clay have plastic coatings.

The glossy papers of this type are bad for the environment. The plastic coating would prevent them from breaking down and biodegrading. This can cause a significant environmental problem. For instance, they add to pollution.

Besides, the flood could wash them off to many undesired places. Where this happens, animals could consume them and it could cause problems for them.

Apart from this, some glossy papers contain colors that have toxic chemicals in them. When these glossy papers get to the environment, their poisonous chemicals can leach into underground water and contaminate it.

For this side, the fact that we cut down trees to make papers is used to strengthen their points.

So, as you can see, glossy papers are bad for the environment, depending on the side, you view the argument.  For us, we would go with the second argument. Until we can make sustainable and eco-friendly papers, we should be conscious of the environment.


Glossy papers are another kind of paper that was only specially made. This only means that you also have to be careful with how you deal with them. You should follow all the steps we have highlighted above. This way, you will be helping the environment.

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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.