Corrugated cardboard is an amazing material for protecting your documents, storing or displaying items, and shipping your products to customers. It’s strong and provides excellent protection against damage from crushing and impact, yet it’s incredibly lightweight. It’s a renewable resource that’s cost effective and comes in color, shape and size options to suit any company’s needs. One of the greatest things about corrugated cardboard, however, is that it is so easy to recycle.
Cardboard, made of paper pulp, is one of the most valuable recyclable materials and is widely accepted by essentially all recycling programs. In the United States, over three-fourths of the corrugated cardboard boxes produced are recycled. Many companies have even found an additional revenue stream by selling their used cardboard boxes in bales to recycling companies. You can recycle pretty much anything made of cardboard, from mailing tubes to small promotional paperboard products to large shipping boxes.
When corrugated cardboard boxes are recycled, they are shredded and placed in a giant vat with water and agitated until the fibers release and turn to a kind of cardboard mush. From this slush, it is easy to remove foreign material such as tape, string and staples. Then the paper fibers are spread onto a screen and the water drained away. Large rollers iron out the fibers, thinning out the paper and pressing out any remaining water. When it is dry, it is wound into large rolls and returned to the box companies to be made into new corrugated cardboard once again. Typically cardboard boxes are made from 35% recycled paper, but can be made from up to 100% recycled paper.
The few cardboard boxes that are not recycled in this way can be reused in different ways. Some are shredded to be made into packaging material to cushion products. Some are reused several times to store or transport items. Some are simply discarded, but cardboard is biodegradable and breaks down relatively quickly.
Very few types of cardboard can’t be recycled. Waxed paperboard is the most common. Juice or milk containers are good examples of waxed paperboard. Cardboard that has become very wet, or soaked with grease may not be recycled. And some types of printed shipping box are not recyclable in all areas.
Any way you look at it, corrugated cardboard is an amazing resource. By choosing to recycle your used shipping and storage boxes, you’re helping the environment. You may be earning money by selling your cardboard to a recycling company. Recycling locally provides jobs for your community. And keeping cardboard out of your waste stream saves you money. Cardboard works for your business!