Recycling is an essential part of reducing our carbon footprint, conserving natural resources and protecting our environment. But sometimes, sustainability isn’t always so straightforward. Not all recyclable objects are created equal and some need to follow specific procedures in order to be properly recycled.

Knowing the difference between what recyclable, curbside recyclable and recycled content are can play an important role in living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of recycling to help you understand the distinction between each one and dispose of them accordingly:

Recyclable: an overarching term

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, the term “recyclable” can be defined as an item that “can be collected, sorted, reprocessed, and ultimately reused in manufacturing or making another item”. While this may seem fairly intuitive, it’s not that simple. In order for something to be considered recyclable, there needs to be a strong likelihood that this object can do all of this in the community that it is sold in.

Recycling gets further complicated when companies add other components or ingredients to their products that cannot be reprocessed. Luckily, certain initiatives – like the How2Recycle program – are working to create a standardized label with detailed instructions on how exactly to recycle certain products.

Kick it to the curb

Under the umbrella of recycling lies curbside recycling. Simply put, this is the recyclable materials that are placed in your curbside bin, collected by a waste management company and brought to the appropriate recycling facility. But as we have come to learn, it’s not quite that simple. There is no standard for curbside recycling, meaning your community may only allow certain items to be placed in your curbside bin. Some places may even require you to sort your recycling based on material.

However, there are certain items that are commonly accepted amongst most curbside pickup services, such as paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass, aluminum, tin and steel. Items that can’t be kicked to the curb – like plastic bags or mailers – must be taken to a store drop-off location that accepts flexible plastics.

What about recycled content?

So where does recycled content come into play? A product that is made with recycled materials contains recycled content. TThis content generally comes from Post Industrial Resin (PIR) and Post Consumer Resin (PCR) in the case of recycled plastics and Post Consumer Fiber (PCF) in the case of recycled paper. PIR refers to the scrap or waste created during the original manufacturing process. It may come from poly scrap or reprocessed pellets and can be recycled into new products. PCR is the resin from plastics used by consumers that have been recycled and are now ready to be used again and PCF is the fiber produced from paper products that have been recycled after being used by a consumer for its intended purpose.

Recycled content plays an important role in sustainability and the overall supply chain. Using products made from recycled materials – like our Mailjacket® – can help companies reduce their carbon footprint, increase their cost savings and create an overall more effective delivery system. Recycled content can also help increase the demand for recycled goods and in turn, help recycling become less costly and more sustainable.


PAC Worldwide’s new Ecojacket® mailer is made of natural, kraft paper and can be easily recycled in your curbside bin. Check out this mailer and our other sustainable packaging options to help your business go green!