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How To Recycle Cardboard

Known as OCC (Old Corrugated Cardboards) by industry insiders such as waste haulers and recycling professionals, cardboards are valuable lightweight but strong items popularly used in packaging and transportation of materials or goods. It’s hard to think of an industry that doesn’t rely on cardboard boxes for packaging. It’s resilient, reusable, and worth fighting for. 

Cardboard is probably one of the easiest materials to recycle. Unlike your couch, mattress, or most other items, cardboards aren’t usually made of many materials that you may have to break up and recycle separately. Perhaps, the worst you have to deal with if you want is to remove the tape on it if it has been sealed. 

If you are used to getting deliveries from Amazon or any eCommerce store, you probably have a pile of cardboard boxes in your home that you have no use for. You’ve probably googled terms like “cardboard recycling near me ” or “cardboard removal service near me”. 

While cardboard recycling may be more straightforward than other materials, it’s important to know how to recycle them properly. In this article, we consider a step-by-step process of recycling cardboard boxes. But first, let’s consider…


Why Recycle Cardboard? 

unpacked boxes in middle of room

About 50% of your cardboard box material is just recycled cardboard. So, about 51% of all cardboard is used to make corrugated cardboard while 11% goes into making new paperboard materials like your cornflakes cereal box. 

Close to 80% of all retailers and grocers recycle their cardboard. If you’ve been doing this, you can give yourself a pat on the back! You’re contributing to environmental sustainability. Only 75% of the energy needed to make new cardboard is used to recycle it and recycling one ton of cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil. Not only are cardboards easy to recycle, but they’re also sustainable and energy-efficient. 

Need more reasons why Dimension thinks cardboard box pickup and recycling are necessary? Cardboards, like paper, are made from trees, so recycling helps save trees by reducing the demand for trees to make new cardboard. Earth911 surmises that it takes 3 tons of trees to make one ton of cardboard while a ton of recycled cardboard saves landfill space of up to 9 cu. yards. 

Cardboard recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, hazardous air pollutants, and other toxic volatile organic chemicals.


How To Prepare Your Cardboard Boxes for Recycling 

Step 1: Separate the Cardboard from Other Items

crop person browsing cellphone while sorting waste

The first step in preparing your cardboard boxes, whether corrugated cardboard or paperboard, is to separate them from other items or waste products. Collect them and save them separately. 

It’s possible that most of the cardboard boxes you have are from shipped products in which case you might have wondered about cardboard and styrofoam recycling. However, do not try to put these items together. Remove all other packaging materials such as styrofoam, bubble wrap, and plastic bags. You can also remove the tapes that come with the packaging. 

Step 2: Collapse, Flatten and Break Up the Cardboard Boxes

white kitten on brown folded cardboard box

The second step in preparing your cardboard boxes for recycling is collapsing, flattening, and breaking up the boxes. Many recycling centers won’t accept whole boxes so this is an important step in recycling your cardboard. You can do this with a box cutter, a pair of scissors, or a knife. You can also cut them up into pieces so they can all fit into a neat pile and this is good if you intend to put them in a recycling bin.

Step 3: Disposal 

Dispose of your cardboard in your recycling bin or in a recycling center. Make sure that the cardboard pickup service that removes your cardboard boxes for recycling is genuine, certified, and affiliated with a recycling facility so that your carefully sorted cardboard pile does not end up in a landfill. Dimension is one such company that prioritizes sustainability and makes sure your waste is handled appropriately and recycled. 

When You Can’t Recycle Cardboard 

Note that there are instances where your cardboard can’t be recycled. For example, wet cardboards aren’t recyclable so make sure to keep your cardboard boxes away from water or rain. When wet, the cardboard fibers are affected, weakening the cardboard and making it less valuable and weightier.

Also, cardboard packages such as milk cardboard and juice boxes are coated with materials other than cardboard so they can not be recycled. And pizza boxes eventually have grease and food stains, making them unrecyclable too.

When you can’t recycle cardboard, the best practice is to reuse them. You can use them in compost piles, garden beds, mulch, gift wrapping, and storage. 

How Your Cardboard is Recycled at The Recycling Facility

Step 1: Collection & Sorting 

Once collected, the cardboard is hauled from the collection point to the recycling facility. The recycling facility is the endpoint of all cardboard collected in recycling bins and by disposal services from residential and commercial spaces for recycling purposes. Paper mills often serve as recycling facilities for cardboard.

The cardboard is then sorted depending on the material. They may separate the haul into corrugated cardboard, or boxboard. There may be other materials that can not be recycled at the recycling facility such as wet cardboard, oily pizza boxes, coated cardboard, or cardboard with mixed materials.

Step 2: Shredding & Pulping

After collection, hauling, and sorting, the next step is to shred the cardboard in order to break down the paper fibers into tiny bits. It is then pulped, a process in which the shredded material is mixed with some chemicals and water which turns the mix into a slurry pulp. 

The pulp is further mixed with new pulp from wood chips, which strengthens the substance. 

Step 3: Filtration and Deinking

The pulp is then filtered to rid it of impurities and contaminants that may still be present. These contaminants may include glue and strings. It is filtered again in a centrifugal process where further contaminants including plastic may be removed. 

Once the impurities are removed, the pulp is put in a floatation device and passed through chemicals that remove all dyes and ink in the pulp. This is called a cleaning process.

Step 4: ReUse

Once filtered thoroughly, deinked and cleaned, the pulp is mixed with new materials. The pulp is then dried and goes through a machine that presses it into long rolls of fiber sheets known as liner board and medium which are glued to make new cardboard. These liner boards and mediums may also be transported to a final production facility where they are made into the final products: new packaging boxes. 


Cardboard Waste Disposal

corrugated paper with red string

Whether you’re a convenience store, grocery store, retailer, manufacturer, or work in any other type of industry, Dimension will help you navigate the fluctuating (and sometimes confusing) market prices and regulatory policies to make sure that you receive the most value out of your cardboard materials.

Recycling cardboard is essential for sustainability. It protects forests, curbs climate change, and conserves resources. And best of all? It’s relatively easy to do.

Use Dimension to recycle your cardboard and protect forests, address climate change, and conserve the world’s resources. Not only is cardboard recycling essential for sustainable business, it’s easy to do!

Let us build you a cost-effective path to better cardboard waste disposal today.

Dimension can help you out!  Looking for where you can take cardboard boxes or haul your cardboard waste? Give us a call, and we’ll get to it!

What’s more? We don’t only handle cardboard removal; we provide all waste disposal services.

So let’s take items you don’t need including mattresses and other furniture, electronics, etc. And unlike most waste disposal/ junk removal companies, we are very affordable.

Give us a call today!

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