Is kitchen roll recyclable? Recycling paper towel FAQs answered

A dad washes hands with his toddler at a kitchen sink.

Your little one has left a trail of sticky orange juice in their wake as they hightail it out of the kitchen to watch cartoons. But what happens next? Of course, a bit of mess is just a part of life, and you’ve reminded your little one about that, but what should you do with your kitchen roll once you’ve cleaned it all up? Can kitchen roll be recycled? Join us as we dive into the world of waste disposal to answer the question, ‘is kitchen roll recyclable?’


Whether it’s a trail of juice following the cherub-faced culprit, or a DIY job gone awry (you do appreciate the effort, though), use Plenty Flexisheets to mop up. With 2024 Product of the Year Award-winning Flexisheets,* you choose what you use, so you’ll always have the perfect amount of kitchen roll handy. Waste less, save more.

Why is it important that we recycle?

Recycling is a common sustainable practice that’s well ingrained into our daily routines at this point. That’s a really fantastic thing. Recycling ensures that certain items like paper, cardboard and certain types of plastics are diverted from landfills and sent to recycling facilities instead. 

This is important for two main reasons: 

  1. Landfills are harmful for our planet. Landfills are places where waste is sent to breakdown, and this can cause several environmental issues. One of the biggest problems is the methane gas (a greenhouse gas) that these landfills emit. The concentration of methane in the atmosphere is continuously increasing, and is the second-largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide.1 Because landfills are one of the largest sources of methane in our atmosphere, they contribute to climate change.2 Not only that, but they can potentially have harmful effects on those living near them, too.3 
  2. Fewer virgin materials are needed. When we recycle, we’re not just stopping waste from going to landfill. The materials we send off to recycling plants will be processed and turned back into the same or different materials from which new products can be created. This means there are fewer virgin materials needed! In the case of Plenty kitchen rolls, we’re committed to using 85% renewable or recycled materials in our packaging, and having 100% of our packaging being recyclable, by 2025.**

Is kitchen roll recyclable?

So, we know that recycling is important and can have environmental benefits. But are paper towels recyclable? Unfortunately, aside from the cardboard tube, the answer today is no, you cannot usually recycle paper towels in the paper waste stream. But why is recycling paper towels not possible so far?

Typically, you cannot recycle paper towels for a few reasons: 


We use our kitchen roll for a whole host of different tasks and tough jobs. Some of these jobs leave certain chemicals or contaminants on kitchen roll which poses contamination risks at the recycling plant. The most common contaminants we might find on kitchen roll are: 

  1. Food residues: Kitchen roll frequently comes into contact with food residues, such as sauces, oils, and food particles - including those gloopy smears of tomato sauce you had to wipe up from the underside of your table last week. It’s the quality time with loved ones that’s important, though! 
  2. Foreign objects: Sometimes, kitchen roll may inadvertently capture non-paper materials, such as plastic, metal, or rubber, during cleaning tasks. These foreign objects can create processing problems at recycling plants, potentially damaging equipment and requiring additional sorting efforts. 

If you’re wondering ‘can I recycle napkins?’, the same is true: napkin recycling is a no-go, too. However, always make sure you’re recycling paper towel cardboard tubes and the recyclable packaging, too!



Recycling is an accessible method by which we can reduce our impact on the environment. If you want to teach kids the importance of recycling, while covering yourselves (and the sofa) in confetti sprinkles of paper cuttings, find out how to make recycling fun and spend quality time together, too!

If I can't recycle paper towel, how can I dispose of it?

We know the answer to ‘can kitchen roll be recycled?’, but don’t be disheartened, we can still dispose of kitchen roll responsibly! 

Plenty Original, Flexisheets and Max kitchen roll sheets are now certified compostable!** But what does this mean? Well, when you’ve finished cleaning up your compostable mess, you can toss your Plenty Original sheets on your compost heap, where they will begin their journey to become nutrient-rich compost for your garden. Plus, composting is super fun and the perfect opportunity to get yourself caked in compost and have a proper giggle with your green-fingered helpers – they’ll love it! Just remember to give them a good wipe down before they run onto their next adventure. 

Compost your kitchen towel sheet after cleaning up compostable messes and dispose of the sheets that are contaminated with chemicals or soaked with fat into the usual household waste. Check out our explainer on what is and what isn’t compostable, and to find out more about Plenty Original being compostable, see the answers to your frequently asked questions.

Whatever you can do, that's just perfect

When we talk about recycling, climate change, and greenhouse gases, it can all get a little bit overwhelming. The scale of these challenges may leave us feeling powerless at times. However, it's important to remember that every small effort counts, just like when your toddler tries to help with a bit of baking. Even if it does suddenly start to snow flour in the kitchen, we still love them for helping. 

Individual actions, like reducing, reusing, recycling, and responsibly disposing of products like kitchen roll, may seem insignificant on their own, but when multiplied across millions of households, they can make a big difference! Recycling, conserving energy, and adopting sustainable practices, no matter how modest they may seem, contribute to a collective effort to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Taking a step towards a more sustainable lifestyle, even in the smallest ways, is a commendable choice, so well done for making the decision to care for your planet and its inhabitants! So, whether you recycle paper towels’ cardboard tubes or make bigger gestures, be happy in the knowledge you’re doing your bit.

How we make our kitchen roll with sustainability in mind

Plenty Flexisheets are designed so you can have the perfect amount of kitchen roll, no matter or big or small the spill, stain or splash. Plus, Flexisheets work without a tube on your holder and there's no tube to throw away, cutting down on waste. And with less plastic*** in the packaging, there’s less to dispose of. So, while you might not be able to fully recycle your paper towels, you rest assured nothing is being wasted.

*Winner General Household Category (Survey of 8,000 people in UK & ROI) 

**Plenty kitchen towels are certified as home and industrially compostable according to NF T 50-800 and EN14995. 

**Compared to Plenty Original 1R 


1 NASA Global Climate Change, Methane

2 Department of Energy and Climate Change, Methane GHG Inventory summary Factsheet

3 Njoku, P. O., Edokpayi, J. N., & Odiyo, J. O. (2019). Health and Environmental Risks of Residents Living Close to a Landfill: A Case Study of Thohoyandou Landfill, Limpopo Province, South Africa. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(12), 2125.

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