When it comes to efficient waste recycling, cardboard continues to be one of the most effective and productive materials to reuse. However, research indicates that more often than not, cardboard isn’t sufficiently recycled by residential or commercial waste services.
According to the EPA, the total generation of cardboard and other paper-based packaging materials as municipal solid waste exceeded 67 million tons, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all municipal solid waste production. In addition to that figure, landfills received over 17 million tons of cardboard municipal waste in 2018, totaling just under 12% for all landfilled MSW that year.
All of this equates to spreading more awareness about how to properly recycle cardboard, as well as understanding why recycling this material leaves to better environmental sustainability. If you need a refresher on recycling guidelines for cardboard, let’s take a look at how to recycle cardboard the right way, as well as how crucial it can be for more effective waste management solutions.
Why Recycling Cardboard Matters
In addition to being one of the most used packaging materials in the world, cardboard presents dozens of opportunities and incentives to reuse.
For starters, here are a few cardboard recycling statistics that empathize the need to properly recycle this material:
● Recycling 1 ton of cardboard eliminates 9 cubic yards of landfill space.
● Recycling 1 ton of cardboard also saves approximately 46 gallons of crude oil.
● Recycling cardboard only takes 75% of the energy needed to make new cardboard.
● More than 90% of all products shipped in the U.S. use corrugated cardboard.
As you can see, the environmental and economical implications of recycling cardboard are vast and significant. Now imagine how much crude oil would be conserved or how much landfill space would be reduced if every household or business incorporated efficient cardboard recycling into their waste solutions!
Corrugated Cardboard Vs. Paperboard
There are two primary types of cardboard, which are corrugated cardboard and paperboard (also known as chipboard). Corrugated cardboard is the most commonly used and recognized form of cardboard, as it’s what’s used to make brown shipping containers and boxes with its thick, durable, extra inner layers of cardboard fiber.
Paperboard, on the other hand, is a single-layered form of cardboard, utilized for common packaging such as shoe or cereal boxes. While corrugated cardboard has exceptionally higher recycling rates for paper-based materials, paperboard tends to be less properly recycled, generally because corrugated cardboard is more used in commercial settings, while paperboard packaging tends to be more utilized in residential settings.
Break It Down
The golden rule of recycling any form of cardboard is to flatten it out before properly disposing of it. This process makes it easier for recycling companies to separate and organize cardboard materials from other paper-based materials. You don’t have to remove any excess materials attached to the cardboard, such as tape or any other packaging labels, as those will be removed during the recycling process.
When to Avoid Recycling Cardboard
There is essentially one occasion where cardboard is non-recyclable: if it’s been contaminated or saturated.
One of the biggest examples this applies to are pizza boxes, which are often covered in grease and oil. When people put greasy pizza boxes in the recycling bin, more often than not it cannot be recycled, because that oil has manipulated the binding fibers, making it more difficult to recycle and rendering it ultimately unusable.
However, every state has different recycling guidelines when it comes to recycling pizza boxes, so be sure to inquire with your local recycling provider on their preferred course of action. All in all, you’ll be on the safe side of recycling if you cut out and throw away any saturated sections of a cardboard box, while saving the dry areas for recycling.
Reuse, Reuse, Reuse
In the end, there are nearly infinite ways to reuse cardboard boxes, rather than disposing of them after their initial use. Obviously, cardboard boxes are ideal for moving and storage, and even if you’re not planning on moving anytime soon, you can always donate them to any moving or storage companies that are willing to accept them.
Keeping some cardboard boxes handy for any packaging or shipping you’ll eventually need them for is always an easy way to continue reusing them. To put it simply, the more ways you can utilize cardboard boxes, the less likely they’ll end up in landfills.
Contact LJP Waste Solutions for Professional Recycling Services
Knowing all the ins and outs of proper recycling is crucial to committing to sustainability. If you’re in need of professional and reputable waste management solutions, contact LJP Waste Solutions today to help you efficiently dispose of all your residential or commercial waste, or give us a call at 507.625.1968 to speak directly with one of our waste management experts.