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Can Wallpaper Be Recycled?

22 Oct 2020
Can Wallpaper Be Recycled?

Wondering if wallpaper is recyclable? Want to know more about wallpaper materials? Find the answers to your questions and more with this helpful guide.

Whether you're replacing old wallpaper or find yourself with leftover wallpaper pieces, you will be wondering what to do with these materials. Your first instinct will be to recycle it, but can wallpaper be recycled? Since it is primarily made from paper, you might think so, but problems arise with the other wallpaper materials.

Wallpaper Materials

While every type is different, wallpaper in general consists of a backing, a ground coat, applied ink, and occasionally a paste on the backing to allow the paper to adhere to the wall. Wallpapers are frequently coated in a layer of vinyl or polyethylene that allows you to clean the surface of your wallpaper. Wallpaper backings are frequently available in two types; woven and non-woven. Woven backings are made from sturdy woven textiles like drill, which is heavy woven cotton similar to jean material. Non-woven backings can be made from wood pulp, groundwood or wood pulp combined with synthetic material. Ground coats are the background color laid on the surface of the wallpaper that the printed pattern will be placed on. To protect the background color, coatings, or laminates made from latex or vinyl are added to the wallpaper. The inks used to create designs on the wallpaper are made from pigment and a chemical that will tie the ink to the backing.

Can Wallpaper Be Recycled?

Because of all these added chemicals and materials, wallpaper cannot be recycled. To recycle paper, the process requires that recycled paper is completely water-soluble. Because of the addition of polythene or vinyl to wallpaper to make them washable, it is nearly impossible to recycle wallpaper. These contaminants are difficult to remove from paper fibers and will cause obstructions during the recycling process. This is true of other additives found in wallpaper, like adhesives, fire-retardant chemicals, inks, and other materials. In addition to the materials added on purpose, there are additional materials that can be found on wallpaper that has been removed from the wall. When you remove wallpaper, it can hold on to trace amounts of plaster, paint layers, and other pollutants that add obstructions during recycling. As a result, if you are going to discard wallpaper, it will need to be disposed of in other ways. Check with your local city council to determine if there are any programs for wallpaper disposal.

Reusing Or Repurposing

While you cannot recycle wallpaper, you can give it new life and prevent it from ending up in landfills. If you find yourself with an abundance of wallpaper, try out some of our tips for reusing or repurposing wallpaper.

1. Wrapping Gifts

If you find yourself with unused rolls of wallpaper, you can put them to use in new ways. Wallpaper is heavier and more durable than traditional wrapping paper, making them a great choice for wrapping your presents. You can even cut a small piece of wallpaper to create a coordinating gift tag.

Leftover Wallpaper | Gift Wrap | Astek Home

2. Give Furniture A New Look

Wallpaper can give old furniture a new look. By adding wallpaper to the backings or surfaces of bookshelves, tables, or chairs, you can add a unique look to your furniture and give it a new lease on life.

3. Drawer Or Shelf Liners

Instead of buying contact paper or other liners, wallpaper makes a great liner for your drawers and shelves. This will also allow you to coordinate the look of several rooms by using wallpaper on furniture and drawers.

4. Arts and Crafts

Wallpaper makes a great material for arts and crafts projects. Create custom greeting cards, personalized stationery, and unique scrapbook pages with leftover wallpaper. You can even create beautiful murals with used or new wallpaper, breathing new life into your wallpaper while creating great art for your home.

Leftover Wallpaper | Arts & Crafts | Astek Home

No matter how you decide to repurpose your wallpaper, you will be helping the environment and giving new life to a material that is often overlooked.