Cardboard Recycling: Everything Your Business Needs To Know


Did you know that it takes seventeen trees to make one ton of cardboard? That’s a lot of trees and a big carbon footprint. But thankfully, cardboard recycling can produce some big returns. When just one ton of cardboard is recycled, it saves nine cubic yards of landfill space. Because it’s easier to recycle cardboard for future use, recycling is an energy savings of about 25% compared to producing virgin cardboard from trees.

Recycling cardboard is not as simple as it could be for everyone. The recycling process can be confusing without the luxury of designated bins for recycling and disposal. If you have questions about the recycling process, how to properly dispose of your cardboard waste, or your options for recycling, keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of cardboard recycling.

How To Recycle Cardboard Boxes

Want to know how to make the most of your cardboard waste? Thankfully, there are lots of options for cardboard recycling. We’ll break down how you can properly recycle your cardboard and where to do it.

First, cardboard waste needs to be properly prepared for recycling. Here’s a step-by-step:

  • Break down the box. Use a box cutter, knife, or scissors to cut any tape so that your box can be easily collapsed.
  • Remove any packaging materials like plastic or Styrofoam from the box. Don’t worry about packaging labels – labels will be removed at the recycling center.
  • Cut out any areas damaged by liquid. Saturated cardboard is difficult to recycle, so it’s best to recycle dry cardboard.

Where Can Cardboard Be Recycled?

Many cities offer recycling pick up services for residents. In these cities, residents are given bins to contain their cardboard recycling for pick up on designated days. It’s important for residents to be certain their cardboard is folded or compacted in order to fit in the bin, rather than sitting on the ground. Also, you may want to avoid leaving out cardboard recycling on rainy days since wet cardboard often can’t be recycled.

If recycling pick up isn’t available in your city, there are still options for cardboard recycling that residents and businesses may take advantage of. Residents can often drive to recycling facilities to drop off items like cardboard for recycling.

Establishing a relationship with a private recycling company is often the best option for businesses that may have a large amount of cardboard waste. Such businesses often require larger bins for storing cardboard, and more frequent pickups.

The Cardboard Recycling Process

Once cardboard waste arrives at the recycling facility, the process of recycling into new cardboard and other paper products begins.

First, the cardboard is separated from other waste items. Then, it is baled using a cardboard baler and sent to a cardboard mill to be shredded. Once the cardboard waste has been shredded into small pieces, a process using water and chemicals is employed to break down the shredded cardboard.

A pulping machine then breaks down the cardboard waste further into fibers and filters out any ink, plastics, and tape residue. Next, the fine cardboard fibers are mixed with water again and pressed together for future manufacturing.

Finally, the cardboard fibers are rolled out and dried. The resulting reels of brown paper are used to create lots of new recycled paperboard or cardboard products. Most of the cardboard paper will undergo a process called downcycling to produce new paper products, but some will be made thicker layer by layer to form newly recycled cardboard boxes.

Types of Cardboard

Both corrugated cardboard and paperboard/chipboard are recyclable items. Corrugated cardboard is thick, with a layer of wavy fiber between two cardboard sheets. It comes in many colors, shapes, and sizes. All corrugated cardboard can be recycled. Each year, more than 80% of corrugated cardboard is recycled in America.

Most paperboard and chipboard has been recycled at least once before. Every time cardboard is recycled, the fibers inside get shorter, making the resulting cardboard thinner each time. The resulting paperboard is used widely for many prepackaged items including cereal boxes and cases for soda cans.

Composting with Cardboard

Did you know cardboard is also perfect for composting? It’s one more way you can recycle used cardboard at home, so there’s no reason your cardboard should ever go to waste.

Many home gardeners add cardboard to their compost piles and bins. It’s the perfect way to recycle cardboard that may have become saturated by water or rain, since most recycling facilities require dry cardboard. Damp cardboard is an excellent addition to your compost bin – it makes great bedding for worms, who digest the scraps in the compost and leave fertile soil for gardens.

Here’s how to use cardboard in your compost:

  • Remove packing materials like plastic, foil, tape, and Styrofoam that won’t break down in your compost bin.
  • Next, break the cardboard down into small pieces to help it deteriorate at a faster rate. Although you can use wet or dry cardboard for composting, saturating your cardboard will also help it to decompose.
  • Turn the cardboard with green items in your compost to keep it moist and boost oxygen in the soil. You’ll have rich garden soil for planting in six to eight months using this cardboard recycling method.

Other Ways Cardboard Can Be Reused at Home

There are other ways to reuse cardboard boxes beyond standard recycling or composting. If your cardboard boxes are in good condition, you can reuse them for moving or as storage boxes. You probably know someone who could reuse your cardboard boxes, so don’t hesitate to ask.

There’s no reason to waste good cardboard boxes. Here are some creative options for reusing or recycling cardboard at home:

  • Get organized with cardboard drawer dividers
  • Use it to protect your floors by creating cardboard walkways during remodeling
  • Reuse cardboard to ship items from home
  • Keep it safely stored in your garage for future use
  • Use recycled cardboard to build creative items with your kids. Is there a combination that kids like more than an empty box and imagination?

Managing Commercial Cardboard Waste

Many ideas for reusing and recycling cardboard aren’t very effective for businesses because the scale of operations is much larger. Does your company produce large amounts of cardboard waste? If so, you might be wondering how to effectively manage it aside from stuffing it into the overflowing dumpster out back. There are many solutions for recycling cardboard commercially with the help of cardboard recycling machines.

To get started recycling commercial cardboard waste, you’ll first need to separate your cardboard from other waste. The good news is that time spent separating cardboard from other waste will cut down on waste collection costs and potentially save your company money on packaging materials in the future.

Boxes, tubes, fiberboard, and paperboard can all be recycled. You can hire a local collection company to collect your company’s cardboard waste for recycling on a schedule or drop it off at their facility.

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Saving Money On Commercial Cardboard Recycling

In order to save money on future packaging materials, you may want to purchase a cardboard shredder. A cardboard shredder or box perforator will allow your business to turn your used cardboard boxes and other cardboard waste into void filling for packaging and shipping items.

A cardboard baler is another option for saving on commercial cardboard recycling. Cardboard balers compress cardboard waste into a compact bale, creating more space in your facility and potentially creating a new revenue stream. You can make money selling cardboard bales to local recycling companies or directly to paper mills.

If you do plan to sell your cardboard waste to a local recycling facility, weigh it first. Weighing your cardboard bales before selling them will help you to determine a fair price. Last year, the average price for one ton of recycled cardboard was $35 in North America. That’s a great way to save your business money while helping save the environment too.

Hiring a Commercial Recycling Company for Cardboard Waste

Hiring a commercial recycling company can simplify the recycling process – a certified company will take the responsibility from you and meet all regulatory requirements. These days, it’s critically important to manage your company’s waste in an environmentally friendly way, but it can be tricky to figure out the best way to manage large amounts of cardboard waste. Hiring a recycling company to manage your cardboard waste makes it easy.

A certified recycling company will properly sort and recycle commercial cardboard waste, eliminating the need to spend valuable time figuring out proper recycling procedures like sorting, breaking down, and compacting cardboard for recycling.

Plus, your business can save money on expensive machines like forklift hoppers, balers, and shredders needed to process cardboard for recycling in house.

Contacting a recycling company near you can save your business time and money on cardboard recycling and overall waste management in the future. If you have more questions about cardboard recycling or other recycling services, contact us today to get the answers your business needs. It’s about time to save time and money on commercial recycling and waste collection costs this year.

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