Can You Recycle Business Cards? (All You Need To Know)

Photo of author
Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

There are plenty of reasons you may need to dispose of business cards. Maybe you have a drawer full of ones that have been handed to you, or maybe you are a business owner and the cards you have are outdated.

Either way, you might be wondering whether or not you can recycle business cards. Well, continue reading to find out how you can recycle them, where to take them, and much more!

Can You Recycle Business Cards?

Most business cards can be recycled, including glossy business cards. However, business cards that have been reinforced with extra hard plastic or a polymer coating cannot be recycled. Although, if your local recycling plant accepts things such as magazines, they will likely also accept business cards.

You have plenty of options when it comes to discarding business cards. This article will explain how you know which business cards can be recycled, and a few ways of disposing of them without tossing them in the trash. 

Can You Recycle Glossy Business Cards?

Glossy business cards can be recycled in most cases. Furthermore, if your recycling center accepts items like magazines, then you should be able to recycle your glossy business cards.

However, the exception to this is if they have been reinforced, that extra plastic or polymer coating is not recyclable in the same facility.

If you are unsure whether your glossy business card is recyclable or not you can check by attempting to rip the card.

If it rips, then it has not been thoroughly reinforced, and it should be fine to recycle it. You can also crumble or fold the card, and as long as it stays crumpled or folded you can recycle it.

Where Can I Recycle My Business Cards?

As long as your local recycling company accepts paper, you should be able to include business cards in your weekly recycling.

If they do not or you do not have a regular recycling service, then you should look for a paper recycling facility near you. 

However, make sure to call beforehand and check that they recycle business cards, and ask for any exceptions they have to recyclability.

Are There Exceptions to Recycling Business Cards?

While you can recycle most paper-based business cards, there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of.

Read More:  Can You Recycle Post-It Notes? (Your Full Guide)

Business cards are recycled by paper recycling centers, and these centers usually will not accept items that include:

  • Thermal receipts
  • Aluminum
  • Paint
  • Wax
  • Grease

This is because these materials contaminate the paper that is being recycled. 

Therefore, before you toss your old business cards in the recycling, make sure they are free of these items.

Are Business Cards Biodegradable?

Paper business cards are biodegradable, but only if they are completely made of paper. 

Glossy business cards are not biodegradable, and those that are plastic or polymer-based are not biodegradable either.

Therefore, glossy and polymer-based business cards should be disposed of in a trash bin. 

Are Business Cards Compostable?

In most cases, your business cards will not be composable, regardless of whether they are biodegradable or not.

The biggest issue here deals with the ink used to print on the business card. Most inks are petroleum-based, which means they are not biodegradable. 

However, you can contact the business that printed your business cards to check the ink they use.

A compostable ink should be vegetable-based, soy-based, or non-toxic to avoid contaminating soil and water.

If your business cards do not use ink that is appropriate for composting, they are better off being recycled.

How Can I Reuse or Upcycle My Business Cards?

How Can I Reuse or Upcycle My Business Cards?

A better option to recycle is reusing or upcycling the business cards you have, and you can do this in any number of ways. 

Furthermore, reusing and upcycling business cards help reduce landfill waste and get the maximum value out of your business cards while helping the environment. 

1. Reusing Business Cards

You can still use old business cards by pasting a new design on the face of them. 

While this involves adding more paper on top, you limit the production needed to create a whole new batch of cards and you keep the ones you have from being tossed out.

This can also save you money, but be prepared to work to recover the cards.

2. Artwork

Old business cards make great canvases for small-scale art. They are generally printed on quality paper that can make your artwork pop.

If you do not want to make smaller art, you can also use them to create texture in larger mixed media pieces.

Read More:  Can You Recycle Magazines? (Don't Make These Mistakes)

Furthermore, paper business cards are easy to tear up and used in a collage, and you can do the same thing by taking a pair of scissors to plastic business cards.

3. Playing Cards

While they may be a bit small, business cards make a great set of playing cards that are easy to tote around.

You can simply label them or even come up with elaborate designs. This is a cool option that results in a set of cards unique to you.

4. Table Cards

If you need to mark seats for a small dinner or even a larger event, you can use business cards. 

In a more relaxed setting, you should be fine to label the blank side and leave them be. 

However, if you need something more refined, then you can cover the print side with solid colored paper or paint over it.

5. Labels

Another way to upcycle business cards is by flipping the business card over and using the blank side as a label. This works well for labeling things like:

  • File folders
  • Baskets
  • Cabinets
  • Drawers

6. Gift Tags

Instead of purchasing gift tags, you can use old business cards. 

They have enough space for you to leave a personalized note on the gift, or you can cut them up to label more than one.


Stop creasing the pages in your books and use old business cards as bookmarks instead. 

They fit easily between the pages, and you will not be too sad if they go missing (as bookmarks often do).

If you are feeling artistic, you can even decorate them to match your favorite books or the book you are reading.

8. Cord Management

If you have some reinforced business cards that cannot be recycled, these make great cord management tools.

You can use them to organize cords in your office by punching about five holes in one side of the card and then cutting slides from the edge to the hole.

Attach the other edge to a desk or table, and you will have an effective way to organize all your cables neatly at hand.

You can also cut the card to make an earphone holder that fits in your bag or pocket.

Punch one hole about a quarter inch from the edge on one short side of the card, and then two holes on the other short edge. 

Read More:  Can You Recycle Bamboo Products? (Don't Make These Mistakes)

The single hole will hold the auxiliary jack and the two holes on the other side will keep each bud from tangling.

Cut slits to the edge to allow you to slip the cord through, and then cut notches into the sides so you can wrap the extra length around the card, and then you’re done!

9. Guitar Picks

If you play guitar, you understand how easy it is to blow through picks. 

So, instead of buying new ones every time you are out, consider upcycling your plastic business cards into guitar picks.

Additionally, you can trace them and cut them by hand, but a guitar pick punch is a better investment if you see yourself doing this often. 

This is also a great way to upcycle disposable cards like gift cards or membership cards.

Are Business Cards Bad for the Environment?

Business cards are not the worst thing for the environment since they are recyclable, but the production of the paper they are printed on is an unnecessary cost. 

Beyond this, business cards cannot be properly composted if they use petroleum-based ink, which limits their chance to break down safely.

Furthermore, there are reusable options that do not require trees to be cut down or run the risk of contaminating soil and water, business cards seem to be an unnecessary evil.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle photographs, photo paper, and negatives, whether you can recycle paper straws, and whether you can recycle oatmeal containers and packets.


Most business cards can be recycled, but polymer-coated business cards cannot. You can recycle business cards as you do with other paper items, but you may need to go to a paper recycling facility if you do not have a paper recycling bin. 

However, if your business cards aren’t recyclable you can DIY and turn them into new useful products such as guitar picks, bookmarks, artwork, and more!


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Leave a Comment