Oct 20, 2021

Mythbuster: Can Old Books Be Recycled?

Can Old Books Be Recycled?

Have you ever thrown an old book into your recycling pile thinking you were doing the planet a favour?

We wouldn’t blame you if you have. But has anyone ever told you that recycling books in your domestic waste is the right choice?

Nobody has ever told us it’s the correct way to do it, so we thought maybe everybody else feels the same.

So, can old books be recycled?

Old books can be recycled, but putting them in your household recycling can cause problems due to the glue, string and other materials that hold them together, especially hardback books.

Recyclers can’t do much with books that are glued together, and guillotining the pages apart would be too time-consuming. There’s every chance your books will be thrown into landfill, and if you care about the planet, this isn’t the best solution.

We encourage people to reuse their books, so we can try and keep as many books out of landfill as possible. We know this isn’t the case sometimes, covers fall off and pages go missing, but if you can reuse a book it’s always best to do that. The little choices count.

If you have any questions about book recycling in your area, contact your local council and ask how they would advise you to dispose of old books. They may have a scheme available you can use.

But the fact is, once you put that book in your household waste recycling bin, you don’t know where it’s going to end up.

Sell Your Old Books Now

Can Old Phone Books Be Recycled?

Can Old Phone Books Be Recycled?

Yes, but our first tip is to opt-out. That’ll be one less book of paper in your house and a step closer to sustainability.

If you don’t want to throw the pages in the bin, use them for something else, like mopping up spillages or packing out parcels.

If you do have old phone books lying around you don’t want, you can put them in the recycling bin.

Where Can I Take Books to be Recycled?

Sell Them

If you think your old books are worth something, you can sell them by entering your ISBN code into our calculator that gives you an instant cash value.

After you’ve entered your ISBN and got your cash valuation, you can package and post for free, then sit back and relax while you wait to get paid. If you have a lot of books, use our app to scan the barcodes, which is quicker than entering every item.

Watch the video to see how simple it is:

Sell Your Old Books Now

Charity Shops

Charity shops are always looking for items to sell to help their cause, and you could contribute to it by donating your unwanted books. If you can’t sell them or don’t want to sell them, this is a great option.

Doctors & Dentists

Doctors and dentists sometimes look for books for their waiting rooms, especially children’s books as parents like to keep their kids occupied while waiting for appointments.

Make sure all your books are appropriate for children, you don’t want someone picking up 50 Shades of Grey and getting a shock!

Schools & Nurseries

Kids grow up fast, and they soon want new books when they grow out of reading their old ones. If you think the books could be useful to other children, then you can ask your local school if they’d like to take them.

However, some schools may have their set curriculum and won’t want to deviate too far away from it, so they may not take any books.


If you have textbooks that are in-date (this is important as universities will usually look for up-to-date copies), you could donate them to a university. If you have old, outdated textbooks your university may refuse them on the grounds the teaching methods aren’t relevant, which is fair.

Reuse Your Books & Get the Most Out of Them

can we recycle old books

Keep Old Books Circulating By Selling The to We Buy Books

With any luck, we’ll see a new, easier way of recycling books in the future, so we don’t have to send damaged books to landfill. However, for the time being try to keep your books circulating, and remember, you can make a little cash in the process if you use our service.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Enter the ISBN number into our price generator or use the We Buy Books app to scan your books for faster checkout.

2. Get an instant valuation, accept your offer and pick your payment method.

3. Box your items, print the postage label and send with our designated courier for FREE.

4. Relax! Once we’ve received your items, we’ll check them and pay you the next day.

Sell Your Old Books Now

10% Extra on your first trade!