Recycling Paper Shipping Sacks

Do you package or receive food products in paper shipping sacks? Recycle them!

Paper industrial shipping sacks, often called multiwall sacks, provide efficient and economical packaging of a wide range of food, agricultural, construction, industrial and consumer products.  And, because they are made almost entirely of paper, they often can be recycled after they are emptied.  Recycling clean, unlined food paper shipping sacks helps reduce the amount of waste requiring landfill disposal and provides an exceptionally good source of fiber for the manufacturing of new cardboard boxes and other paper packaging products, as well as other paper products -- even paper towels.

It’s Easy!

Unlined sacks containing food ingredients and products used in food manufacturing and processing industries are easiest to recycle.  These sacks do not have plastic film linings or contain objectionable residues when shaken clean.

The first step: separate the used paper shipping sacks from non-recyclable materials. This is one of the most important things you can do to increase the sacks’ value in the recycling stream.

Collect unlined food paper shipping sacks together with corrugated cardboard boxes (also known as old corrugated containers, or OCC). These sacks and boxes can be commingled, baled and collected together.

This is important because most unlined food paper shipping sacks are used in facilities or businesses that already recycle OCC. For many businesses, this will be the easiest way to keep sacks out of the landfill because so many businesses already separate their corrugated boxes for recycling.  Clean unlined shipping sacks that have been used to transport food or food ingredients should be placed in containers along with corrugated cardboard boxes for recycling. Some businesses already recycle their paper shipping sacks this way, and paper recyclers are already familiar with this practice.

There is absolutely no need to pay for landfill disposal of clean, used unlined food paper shipping sacks.  If a facility uses a sufficient quantity of unlined paper shipping sacks that warrants separate processing, those sacks could possibly have even greater value than if mixed with corrugated boxes. To understand the specific requirements, contact your local paper recycler or waste hauler.  PSSMA can also help you locate paper recyclers that handle paper shipping sacks.  Contact us if you’d like assistance getting started on a sack recycling program. 

The Bottom Line

Recycling used paper shipping sacks can improve your bottom line. Separating them from non-recyclable waste is often all it takes to get started, keeping them out of the landfill. Pick-up of used corrugated cardboard boxes for recycling is widely available to businesses throughout the US, and clean, unlined food sacks can be recycled along with them. Use PSSMA’s guide and the advice of your local paper recycler to begin recycling your empty paper shipping sacks. You can feel good that you are providing a valuable resource to US paper mills that collectively are striving to recycle 70% of the paper used in the US by 2020, while you are keeping material out of landfills and improving your own bottom line.

Get More Details

PSSMA has issued a guide to assist users of products packaged in paper shipping sacks evaluate the potential for recycling used sacks, and for using the industry recycling emblem.  To download the Recycling Guide, select the link at the bottom of this page.  And to learn what types of paper shipping sacks are most valuable (and will earn you the most revenue when recovered), click here: Paper Shipping Sack Recycling Value Ranking for Businesses.  Also, some paper recyclers specialize in recycling of multiwall sacks.  One such company is Wilmington Paper Corporation, a PSSMA associate member.

Additional Resources

Paper Shipping Sack Manufacturers’ Association,

American Forest & Paper Association,

Fibre Box Association,

Paper Stock Institute,

Wilmington Paper Corporation,