Can You Recycle Kleenex Boxes? (Find Out Now!)

Jessica Vaillancourt
by Jessica Vaillancourt

It’s that time of year again! Flu season can hit pretty hard sometimes. And when it does, you’ll be flying through Kleenex tissues like crazy. With all that nose-blowing comes a lot of empty tissue boxes. This may seem like a waste of cardboard and paper. But before you despair, let’s answer this question: can you recycle Kleenex boxes?

Yes, you CAN fully recycle Kleenex boxes with the plastic insert still attached. Most recycling facilities across the country accept tissue boxes. You should empty the box of its tissues, break it down, and place it in curbside bins or drop it off at a recycling center. Keep in mind, you CANNOT recycle tissues themselves and certain brands of tissue boxes.

Why Kleenex Boxes Can Be Recycled

Kleenex boxes are made of cardboard. They also have a thin poly plastic film to pull tissues from. This cardboard can be recycled with all other cardboard boxes in your recycling bin. The plastic insert is also accepted at recycling facilities, although you can remove them yourself to make the recycling process cleaner.

Are Other Tissue Boxes Recyclable?

Almost all tissue boxes are recyclable. Most are made of cardboard and a plastic film. Check with the brand you use to see if you can recycle the box. Every once in a while, a brand might produce a type of tissue box that is not recyclable. For example, Puffs makes a ‘plus lotion’ line, and a ‘plus lotion with the scent of Vicks’ line that cannot be recycled.

Are Kleenex Tissues Recyclable?

Unlike Kleenex boxes, you should NOT recycle Kleenex tissues. While tissues themselves are partially compostable, they are not suitable for recycling. Kleenex tissues are made with biodegradable fibers, but they contain an additive that doesn’t break down. So throw them in the trash after use. Do not flush them down the toilet either, as these do not break down like toilet paper and will clog the screens.

Similarly to tissues, you cannot recycle other paper products like paper towels, toilet paper, and tissue paper. Their paper fiber quality is too low, and cannot be used to make new products. The higher quality the fiber, the more likely a produce is recyclable into something new.

How to Recycle Kleenex Boxes

How you recycle your Kleenex boxes will depend on your local recycling program. Some programs offer a curbside pickup service. With these, you can typically combine all recycling items in your bin. But other recycling programs require you to sort your recycling items into categories, then drop them off at the local recycling center. Look at your district website or call city hall to find out what applies to you.

Follow these steps to properly recycle your Kleenex boxes.

Step One: Empty the Box of Tissues

Again, you should not be recycling the actual tissues inside the box. Do your best to use up every tissue before recycling the box itself. Use tissues to blow your nose, as makeshift napkins, or to wipe up small spills. Avoid wasting any clean tissues by not throwing them away if possible. Once you use all the tissues, recycle the box.

Step Two: Remove the Plastic Insert (Optional)

Technically, you can leave the plastic window attached and recycle it with the box itself. Recycling facilities have a method of removing those during the process. But there is a risk of contamination if the plastic is not removed by hand. It may also end up in a landfill.

Because of the issues this plastic insert may cause, it’s best to remove it yourself. Glue holds down these inserts from the interior side of the box. You can use your fingers or scissors to cut away the plastic from the outside.

You could also break down the box first, then reach in and pull it off from the inside. Once removed, this plastic insert can be bundled with other plastic bags for recycling.

Step Three: Break Down the Box

A tissue box is shaped like a cube. The smallest sides of the box are where the cardboard folds are. These are glued down to retain the shape of the box.

To break down a Kleenex box, you will need to separate these folds on both sides by pulling them away with your fingers, a box cutter, or other thin object.

You will also need to repeat this same action with the folds on the bottom of the box. Once you separate all the flaps from the glue, press down on the box to flatten it.

Step Four: Sort and Drop at Recycling Center, or Place in Curbside Bin

The final step is to send your Kleenex box to the recycling facility. If your town offers a curbside pickup, you can place the box in with other recycled items in the blue recycling bin.

If you must sort and drop off your recycling at the facility, place the Kleenex box in with the other cardboard and broken down boxes.

Fun Ways to Reuse Kleenex Boxes

Based on the design of a Kleenex box, there are a thousand different ways to reuse them. With the right DIY project and a creative eye, you don’t have to recycle your tissue box just yet. Here are some tissue box upcycling ideas to inspire you:

  • A plastic bag holder.
  • A washcloth holder.
  • Yarn or other crafts storage.
  • Office supplies organizer.
  • Diorama project for kids.
  • Coin holder or piggy bank.
  • Gift box.

Whether you recycle your Kleenex box or use it to create something new, there are so many ways to avoid tossing tissue boxes in the trash.

Related Questions

What are Kleenex hand towels?

Kleenex hand towels are single-use, disposable paper towels that replace cloth hand towels in the bathroom. These hand towels come in a box and dispense like tissues. They cut down on the transfer of hand germs, especially during cold and flu season. They are a good product for those concerned about fabric hand towels getting dirty and having to be frequently washed.

Why does Kleenex glitter?

Some customers have reported a glittery appearance on some of the tissues. Kleenex states that the “glitter” is actually lotion on certain kinds of Kleenex, which gives off a glittery appearance once it dries.

Related Guides

Jessica Vaillancourt
Jessica Vaillancourt

More by Jessica Vaillancourt