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Industry Experts Weigh in on Masks and Recycling

Question: Are the masks we’re wearing to protect us from COVID-19 recyclable?

Answer: Unfortunately, no. Masks are made up of a combination of a lot of materials, and they can’t be recycled. Cloth masks also cannot be recycled. Both should be placed in the garbage when they can no longer be used. Keep in mind that masks are helping to protect you and your loved ones from spreading the virus.

Recycling at Home

However, we’re likely generating more things that can be recycled now that some of us are home more often. Those cardboard boxes from shopping online? Those should go in your curbside recycling bin.

So can the paper packaging protecting the individual purchases inside shipping boxes. Boxes that package medicines and food like cereal or pasta can also go in the recycling bin.

What Can You Do?

Always be sure to check your local recycling guidelines to make sure you’re recycling correctly. When you recycle the right items, you’re helping to make new products.

In the U.S., around 80% of paper mills use some recycled paper fiber to make new products. Things like computer paper, cardboard boxes, cereal boxes and toilet paper.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recyclable resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper