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Are Jigsaw Puzzles Recyclable: What to Do With Unwanted Puzzles

Even the most avid puzzle solvers eventually get tired of some jigsaw puzzles. And when that time comes, they have to decide what to do with their old puzzles. While “put it apart and put it away” or “frame it” are both viable options, there are other ways to go – such as upcycling or recycling old jigsaw puzzles.

Are Jigsaw Puzzles Recyclable?

Whether a jigsaw puzzle is recyclable will depend on the material it is made of. Most commercial puzzles are made of some type of cardboard, making them quite easy to recycle. However, if you’d rather upcycle your puzzles and repurpose them rather than drop them off at a recycling center, we’ve got some ideas.

How Do I Recycle Jigsaw Puzzles?

If you’re sticking to the idea of recycling your jigsaw puzzle, the easiest way to do so is to drive to your local recycling center. However, keep in mind that, due to their small size, not all recycling centers will accept puzzle pieces. Make sure to call ahead of time and ensure you can recycle your jigsaw puzzle.

What to Do With Old Jigsaw Puzzles?

Create Artwork

Whether you decide to frame your finished puzzle as is or to add a personal touch to the final product, jigsaw puzzles make for an excellent artwork idea.

Craft Projects

Besides using a finished puzzle for artwork, you can also use individual pieces as crafting material. For instance, you can glue several pieces together to create unique coasters.

Educational Tools

Jigsaw puzzles were originally imagined as educational tools for learning geography and other fields. So why not get back to the beginning and repurpose your old puzzle for educational purposes, too?

Gift Tags

Gluing together several puzzle pieces of a similar color and using clean white paper as a backing is a quick and easy way to create unique gift tags. Alternatively, you can also arrange the puzzle pieces in the shape of the gift recipient’s initial.

Decorate Household Items

Puzzle pieces can also make for fun decorative items for the household. Aside from the coasters we mentioned above, some puzzle pieces and glue can help you breathe new life into items such as picture frames, mirrors, and kid’s rooms.


Want to be able to take the puzzle apart and put it back together over and over again? Stick some magnets on it and put the puzzle on a magnetic board. If there are too many pieces, you can also group them together for easier puzzle-solving.

Create Coasters

As we have already mentioned, puzzles can be a great material for making coasters. Simply put a handful of pieces together in a square shape. You can choose pieces that form a part of the picture, find ones that are similar in color, or simply paint over them with your own idea.

Donate or Sawp

If you know other people who are just as into puzzles as you are, organizing a puzzle swap could be a great idea. Everybody brings the puzzles they no longer want and exchange them with others for new ones.


Of course, you can always simply recycle the puzzle by taking it to the nearest recycling center near you. Don’t forget to bring your puzzle pieces in an individual bag, separate from the rest of the recycling, to save the staff some time.

Use as Filler Material

Due to their small size and irregular shape, puzzle pieces also make for a good filler material. For instance, if you’re packing a fragile item into a box to move, puzzle pieces can double as packing peanuts.

Create a Collage

Lastly, and this can be especially fun if you have more than one puzzle to work with, you can create a fun collage using different pieces. You may need to do some trimming and cutting to make the pieces fit together, though.

Are Jigsaw Puzzles Recyclable: Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with unwanted jigsaw puzzles?

If you have a jigsaw puzzle you don’t want anymore, you can give it away, sell it, recycle it, or repurpose it into a fun piece of decor or artwork. 

Where can I recycle jigsaws?

The best place to recycle a jigsaw puzzle is your nearest recycling center. However, since not all centers accept items as small as puzzle pieces, it would be a good idea to call ahead to check.

Can glued puzzles be recycled?

Most glues are made to be recyclable, so a smaller amount of glue on your puzzle shouldn’t pose an issue. However, if you have a larger amount of glue (or a type that is non-recyclable), you may not be able to recycle your puzzle.

Where can I donate jigsaw puzzles near me?

Many places will be happy to accept a jigsaw puzzle donation, from charity organizations such as Goodwill and Salvation Army, thrift stores, libraries, and so on. Keep in mind that your puzzle should be in good condition and have all the pieces.