Paper Recycling | How DLK, OCC, And More Are Keeping Paper Products Out Of Landfills


Did you know that over 23 percent of the waste in North America is paper products? It's a staggering statistic, but fortunately, there are ways to recycle paper products and keep them from ending up in landfills. In fact, almost 67 percent of all recycled waste is paper-related. Here's what you need to know about different types of paper recycling and why it is so important for the environment.

What Types of Paper Can Be Recycled?

While newspaper drives have existed for decades, paper recycling is constantly evolving. Today paper and paper products are broken down into multiple categories for easier recycling. Each category is typically referred to by its acronym, including:

  • DLK (double-lined kraft). DLK must be clean, unprinted corrugated cardboard products that have been carefully sorted to ensure that they are free from staples, tape, and other adhesives.
  • OCC (old corrugated containers). Like DLK, OCC must be clean and unprinted corrugated cardboard. OCC, however, can have staples and tape as long as the tape is not reinforced or asphalt-lined.
  • MOW (mixed office waste). Mixed office waste is any paper product to be recycled except cardboard and newspaper. It can be white or colored, printed on or not, clean or full of adhesives and staples. No further separation is required with MOW.
  • SOP (shredded office paper). Some recycling centers break office waste into smaller categories. While SOP is made up of the same materials as MOW, it has been shredded by the business before recycling for added security.
  • SWL (sorted white ledger). SWL is also a subcategory of MOW. SWL is all white paper products. It can be printed or unprinted, coated or not, but it must be free of newsprint.
  • CBS (coated book stock). CBS is the same as SWL but sorted further to contain strictly coated book stock, not uncoated book stock or paper of other weights or grades.
  • ONP (old newspaper). Last but not least is our old favorite, the newspaper. ONP is frequently recycled separately from other paper products because of the harsh ink and adhesives used in the printing process, as well as their short paper fibers.

There are many more categories and subcategories of paper recycling. The above represents a few of the more recognizable ones.

How Many Times Can Paper Be Recycled and Reused?

Paper products can be recycled and reused up to seven times. Paper has long fibers. Each time it is recycled, the fibers get shorter and shorter until they are too short to use for printing purposes. Newspaper, a low-quality paper product, is one of the few things that can be printed on paper made from short fibers. Other uses for short fiber recycling include egg cartons, packaging materials, toilet paper, and cellulose insulation.

Paper recycling is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce and help the environment. Knowing what types of paper can be recycled and how often they can be reused can help you see the big picture for our planet.

Contact a local recycling service to learn more about DLK recycling.


18 October 2022

Recycling More Effectively

After we made a commitment to focus on the environment as a family, we decided that it might make sense to start recycling. We focused carefully on sorting our plastic, metal, and paper, and we were able to completely overhaul how much trash we threw away. Within a few days, we were able to see a reduction in our amount of normal garbage accumulation, and an increase in the amount of materials we were sending in for recycling. It was great to teach our kids what they needed to know to protect the environment. This blog is all about learning how to recycle more effectively.