What Should I Know About Cardboard Recycling?

B. Miller

Cardboard recycling is a very easy and effective way to help the environment and reduce waste. There are a few things you should know about cardboard recycling, along with a few tips to make the process easier. Along with all your other recyclable items like plastic, glass and aluminum, you should make cardboard part of your weekly or monthly recycling.

A cardboard box.
A cardboard box.

There are two types of cardboard that can be recycled: corrugated cardboard, which is what most packaging materials are made out of, and paperboard. Paperboard is not truly cardboard, and is a lower quality paper usually found in cereal boxes, shoe boxes and tissue boxes. Paperboard is often made out of recycled corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard has three layers -- a piece of wavy, or corrugated, cardboard sandwiched between two pieces of flat cardboard.

Pizza delivery boxes should not be recycled.
Pizza delivery boxes should not be recycled.

Cardboard recycling can make a big difference. Over 90% of packages shipped in the United States are shipped using cardboard boxes. According to the recycling website Earth911, "Recycled cardboard only takes 75 percent of the energy needed to make new cardboard and lessens the emission of sulfur dioxide that is produced when making pulp from wood trees. Recycling one ton of cardboard saves nine cubic yards of landfill space and 46 gallons of oil."

Cardboard is inherently becoming more environmentally friendly, as it can be processed with non-toxic inks and does not need to be bleached. Cardboard is manufactured from lumber industry by-products, such as sawdust and wood chips. Cardboard is regularly recycled -- approximately 70% of all manufactured corrugated cardboard is recycled and turned into new cardboard or paperboard.

There are some types of cardboard that should not be recycled. These include pizza boxes, due to the grease, or wet cardboard, which gets moldy quickly and cannot be used. Any cardboard with grease or oil stains should not be recycled. When you are preparing your cardboard recycling, be sure to empty the boxes of any plastic or foam peanuts. Most recycling centers request that the cardboard recycling is flattened or compacted, and placed in a paper bag or tied with a string. Research the requirements of your recycling center; some cardboard can be submitted with your paper for recycling, while others must be kept separate.

If you are unsure where to recycle cardboard, search engines available online can give you information after submitting your zip code. You can also think of creative ways to re-use any cardboard, such as using cardboard boxes to re-package and mail items or for use in the garden. Kids also can use cardboard for art projects. It is important to do your part to reduce landfill waste and pollution, and cardboard recycling is one simple way to make a big difference.

90% of shipped packages in the United States are shipped using cardboard boxes.
90% of shipped packages in the United States are shipped using cardboard boxes.

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