While purely paper envelopes can be recycled kerbside or at a paper bank, what you should do with paper or padded envelopes that have plastic windows is less obvious. Can envelopes with windows be recycled in the UK?
Yes and no. Most paper mills will accept paper envelopes with windows, as these are fairly easy to remove. Very few places take padded envelopes with windows, also known as Jiffy Bags. If you do not want to deal with trying to recycle any of these envelopes, you can reuse them.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to recycle envelopes with windows in the United Kingdom.
How to Recycle Paper Envelopes with Windows
Most locations in the UK do accept paper envelopes with windows, but you should call to confirm that you can recycle these in your area. If you can recycle your paper envelopes, here is how you should do it:
Remove the Windows
This step is optional, but you can remove the plastic windows from the envelopes so that someone else will not have to do it later. The simplest way to remove this window is to cut it out, making sure that you get the surrounding areas that are coated in glue. You can throw this part away and put the envelope with your other paper recyclables.
If dropping the envelopes off at the nearest recycling collection on the kerb is most convenient for you, you can do that. This is probably your best recycling option if you do not have a lot of paper to drop off, either, as you do not want to make the bin overflow.
Recycle at Paper Banks
If you have a lot of errands to run, or if you have a lot of envelopes to recycle, you can take these to a paper bank. Several supermarkets and local government buildings have these, and they can usually hold more material than a kerbside box or bag.
Other Ways to Recycle Paper and Padded Envelopes with Windows
There are plenty of other options for recycling both paper and padded envelopes with windows around the house:
Reuse for Mailing
Typically, you can reuse paper and padded envelopes with windows as long as you place new address labels on top of the old ones. If you do not have labels, you can cover the old addresses with masking tape and write the new ones clearly with a black marker.
Recycle in Compost
Paper envelopes can be added to compost if you remove the window and shred the rest of the envelope. You should not have to worry about the glue, as it is almost always biodegradable. Paper scraps are a good component to use in compost, as they absorb a lot of moisture.
Recycle in Crafts
If you have children, one of the simplest ways to recycle any sort of envelope is by putting it with their craft supplies. Kids are incredibly creative, and they will have a blast coming up with ways to use envelopes in their arts and crafts. Even padded envelopes can be turned into puppets.
Use for Small Items
Old envelopes can be useful for storing small things that would easily be lost otherwise. Some people like to keep seeds in old paper envelopes until it is time to plant them.
If you do not want to start a junk drawer or wish to declutter one, you can sort and store miscellaneous things like outlet adapters, thumbtacks, magnets, etc. Doing this is also convenient because you can label each group.