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

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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.

Post-It Notes are used every day by many and then thrown in the trash, but is this the correct place for them? 3M has conducted recycling trials on Post-It Notes and determined that the adhesive found on the back can be removed from the paper during the recycling process. 

However, does that mean that Post-it Notes can be recycled with your regular recycling? Continue reading to find out this answer and more!

Can You Recycle Post-It Notes?

Post-It Notes are recyclable. Furthermore, Post-It Brand does make both recyclable adhesive products (Post-It Notes) that are made with 100% renewable materials and even plant-based adhesives which can help preserve our natural resources and decrease our greenhouse emissions, so recycling them is safe for the environment.

Read on to discover why post-it notes are recyclable and the many methods used to recycle them. We will discuss some of the ingredients and processes used when manufacturing post-it notes and some more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional Post-Its! 

How To Recycle Post-It Notes

Post-It Brand makes recyclable adhesive products made with 100% renewable materials and plant-based adhesives that help preserve our natural resources. 

However, to make sure your Post-Its are recyclable, check the back for a recycle symbol or look on the company’s website to find out what is safe to recycle. 

To recycle these post-its, you can place them in your recycle bin, or if you have a post-it note recycling container, put it there. 

You can also mail the used post-its to the 3M facility where Post-Its are manufactured for recycling. 

Post-It Brand will then safely recycle all of these products. 

Additionally, the Post-It Brand is always looking for new ways to reduce its environmental footprint. 

Therefore, the company has recently launched post-it note recycle bins. 

They’re made with recycled materials and can be found in cities across America, so if you live near one, use it! 

What Materials Are Used To Make Post-It Notes? 

Post-it notes are made from a unique blend of natural and synthetic fibers, like other paper products. 

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The combination of these materials provides the post-its with its signature sticking power as well as flexibility. 

Let’s look at some of the ingredients and production practices used by 3M when making Post-It Notes. 

Post-It Note Paper Material Ingredients And Production

The raw materials used to make post-its involve more than just normal paper products. 

Wood is an important raw material for papermaking, and the pulping process uses cellulose which makes up around fifty percent of the wood. 

To activate the cellulose content in wood, chips are first cooked with: 

  • Steam
  • Sodium sulfide
  • Sodium hydroxide

Sodium Sulfide, Sodium Hydroxide, and other chemicals are used in the pulping process, and for the traditional yellow color of Post-It Notes, the chemical tartrazine is used. 

In the paper-making machine, post-its take their final form. These machines consume a large amount of electricity and fossil fuels to operate.         

Post-It Note’s Glue Ingredients And Production

The adhesive used in post-it notes is what makes them unique. 

The adhesive’s groundbreaking chemical compound allows it to stick without being permanent, so the post-it’s can be reused.

Furthermore, the primary ingredient of the adhesive used on Post-it notes is water, as water is used mostly as a mixing agent for other ingredients.

Another main ingredient in the adhesive of a post-it note is polyacrylic acid. Polyacrylic acids are synthetic high-molecular-weight polymers. 

Next, Post-It combines the mixture with Cellulose and uses pressurized and heated nitrogen to bond the adhesive. 

Are Post-It Notes Biodegradable?

3M’s traditional Post-It Notes are not biodegradable.

However, 3M’s ‘Greener Notes’ Recyclable Post-it notes, a different variation than 3M’s traditional Post-It Notes are biodegradable as they are made from a blend of plant materials. 

Furthermore, the glue used by these post-its is made of natural materials that are renewable and biodegradable.

Are Post-It Notes Bad For The Environment?

Are Post-It Notes Bad For The Environment?

Many different things can be bad for the environment, but post-it notes might not be one of them. 

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Additionally, Post-It Notes are great for organizing and writing down ideas quickly, which is why they have become so popular in recent years. 

They also come in biodegradable materials like plant-based raw stock and soybean oil waxed paper

The amount of waste created by these notes is minimal, as opposed to other items such as plastic straws which create significantly more waste when disposed of improperly.

Furthermore, the Post-It note production phase is the portion of production that is hardest on the environment. 

The machines used to create the paper product used for post-its consumes fossil fuels and water in excess. 

Therefore, Post-its state that it sources its wood products from responsibly managed forests and has launched programs to replant more trees than it uses. 

How Many Trees Are Used To Make Post-It Notes?

In 2013, post-it launched a program to plant one million trees in the mountainous region of Tennessee as part of its global reforestation program. 

With an estimated production process, between 70,000 and 140,000 post-it notes are made from less than half a tree per year.

Therefore the goal of the company is to plant more trees than used for production.

Furthermore, the company has planted more than 12 million trees in the US and Canada since 2004.

Additionally, Post-it’s report, states that this translates to a decrease of more than 45 million pounds of CO² emissions annually from deforestation. 

Fortunately, recyclable Post-its are made with one hundred percent renewable resources, including limestone and water.

The Energy Consumption Required to Produce Post-It Notes

When we buy paper office products like post-it notes, the energy inputs come from the power required for machinery like cutting and printing. 

Furthermore, papermaking machines use fossil fuels in excess and the water usage in the process can be extremely wasteful. 

However, 3M touts a list of goals for sustainability by 2025, including:

  • Improved Energy Efficiency
  • Reducing Manufacturing Waste and Water Consumption
  • CO²  Emissions Below Baseline
  • 34.5% Increase In Renewable Energy
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All of these statistics were released by 3M as achievable goals by 2025.

Additionally, 3M is working toward a neutral carbon footprint by 2025 as well. 

Environmentally Friendly Alternatives To Post-It Notes

If you are not comfortable using Post-It notes here are some environmentally friendly alternative products:

First, there are more eco-friendly brands of post-it notes that you can buy like Ecolux, grid paper, or recycled post-it brands.

  • Microsoft Virtual Sticky Notes
    • Virtual Sticky Notes is an app you can download for use on Windows 10.
  • Post-it Greener Notes 
    • Post-It Greener Notes are environmentally friendly and recyclable alternatives to the brand’s traditional products. 
  • M.C. Squares Reusable Dry Erase Squares
    • These reusable dry erase squares are sold on Amazon for $19.99.

Though the 3M brand is striving to become more environmentally friendly, these options, particularly digital choices, avoid the consumption of water and fossil fuels. 

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle paper with ink, crayon, paint, or glue on it, whether you can recycle jigsaw puzzles and boxes, and whether you can recycle Kraft paper.

Conclusion

Post-It Notes might be more environmentally friendly than you think. With an estimated production process, it is possible that post-it notes are made from less than half a tree per year, and they can easily be recycled if the adhesive has been removed from the back!

Furthermore, 3M makes many recyclable adhesive products for its Post-It Brand, and its global reforestation program plants more trees each year than we use up with our favorite sticky notes! 

Author

  • 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.

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