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Can You Recycle Binders? Find Out How!

can you recycle binders

Binders, like all things, go through a little something called tear and wear. While some binders can still serve the purpose of holding files together, some form of damage makes binders practically useless. So, can you recycle binders, and if so, how?

Of course, you can recycle binders. After all, they are made with very recyclable materials such as cardboard wrapped in plastic, vinyl, and metal parts. The majority of those parts are easily recyclable.

You can recycle binders through a step-by-step process. Here is how you go about that process.

You Can Recycle Binders – Here’s How

The bulk work of recycling binders only involves a process called de-manufacturing – which is basically the opposite of manufacturing. De-manufacturing means taking apart the parts of something in an orderly manner. As much as possible, you want to separate each material so they can be recycled separately.

Materials Needed

  • Hammer
  • Box cutter

Step 1: Remove the Contents of the Binder and Recycle

The very first step is, of course, to remove all the contents of the binders and recycle what you can. The only common content of a binder that you CAN’T recycle is plastic. As for the rest, such as paper, you can recycle them.

Step 2: Ready Your Workplace

This process can get a little messy; it is not very sophisticated. So prepare a workplace where you can guarantee your safety. The floor should be flat and you should have enough space to move around – preferably at least 5 feet at all sides.

Step 3: Tearing the Binder Apart: Removing the Metal Parts

Place the binder on the floor, open and the metal rings facing up. Hold it in place with your feet; the closer your feet are to the center of the binder, the better. Place the claw end of the hammer under the metal strip holding the rings then pull it straight up.

Rotate the binder around and pull up the metal strip on its other end. When pulling the metal, be careful so the sudden release of the metal will not cause you to snap backward. That potential sudden snapping backward is the reason why you should have ample space to move around – so you will not hit yourself on anything should you lose balance.

If you have successfully removed the metal strip, congratulations, you managed to remove all the metallic parts of the binder.

Step 3: Tearing the Binder Apart: Removing the Vinyl or Plastic Cover

Use the box cutter to cut a big slice of X across the faces of the binder. The faces are the front, the back, and the spine. Remove the vinyl or vinyl cover to separate it from the paper.

Step 4: Recycle the Parts

You can give the metal parts to a scrap metal facility. The paper or chipboard parts can be recycled in the nearest typical curbside recycling program near you. Or, you can recycle those parts yourself for some other use.

You can use the chipboards for art projects or as a stiffening material. Though it can be hard to find a use for the metal parts, you can still recycle them based on your imagination.

Unfortunately, you can’t recycle the vinyl or plastic cover. The best you can do is make sure they get to a landfill.

can binders be recycled

Other De-Manufacturing Methods

As I’ve mentioned, the particular binder-recycling method explained above is unsophisticated. But if you have a use for the individual parts of the binder, you may want to separate those parts from each other delicately.

Because a lot of binders vary in their make and design, there is no one way you can delicately separate the parts of all binders. You can separate the metal parts of some binders using a flathead screwdriver, others you will have to use pliers.

Other Recycling Methods

Sometimes, the binder is not really damaged, but you just don’t use it anymore. If this is the case, the best way to “recycle” such binders is donating them to a local resale shop such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. Or, alternatively, you can donate such binders to a school, or a non-profit organization that can use them – such as a shelter.

Lastly, if the damages are reversible and you can still use the binder, repair the damage. Such damages include permanent marker stains, the spine splitting apart, or the rings become unaligned. Permanent marker stains can be removed using alcohol; a spine splitting apart can be supported using duct tape; the rings becoming unaligned can be repaired using pliers.


Can You Recycle Binders? You Definitely Can! As a whole, a deteriorated binder may not seem much good. But by simply separating its individual parts, a binder is good for recycling. Or, better yet, donate the binder to someone who can use it or try repairing the reparable damage to it.

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