American Society of Magazine Editors

The Potential for Greater Fiber Recovery from Magazines, Catalogs, and Direct Mail

This document presents a review and analysis of information on the degree to which magazines, catalogs, and direct mail are recycled for their paper fiber content, and whether there are technical or economic factors that might limit future efforts to increase the effective recycling and recovery of paper fiber in these materials. One potential concern that has been expressed is whether the presence of “insert” or “ríde-along” pieces in magazines, catalogs, marketing mail, and envelopes might limit or preclude their suitability for recycling. These may take the form of compact disks (CDs) or other small plastic items, small metal foil pouches (e.g., to contain fragrance), ribbon, and even batteries, as well as cellophane or other plastic to contain and protect the insert. Accordingly, SLS Consulting has performed extensive research, using both published and well-informed primary sources, to develop the relevant facts needed to determine whether and to what extent the practice of including ride-along or inserts in the items of interest here does or might inhibit their recycling and recovery following use. We also have developed and include herein relevant information and perspective on the importance of other contaminants in the recovered paper stream, the nature of paper recovery efforts and intermediate products, markets for recovered paper, and the principal products that are manufactured using recycled magazines, catalogs, direct mail, and envelopes.