Cardboard is one of the most recycled materials at waste management facilities and the process to recycle it is a relatively simple one. Cardboard and paper account for 40% of refuse filling up our landfills. It is vitally important to cardboard recycling to reduce refuse in these landfills, save trees, and protect the environment from pollution and over-exploitation.
Although cardboard is biodegradable, you should collect cardboard in a recycling bin rather than simply leave it as litter or decompose in landfills (which takes a considerable amount of time). An alternative option is to shred it up and add it to your compost mixture.
Preparing for cardboard recycling
There are many companies that provide recycling bins and collect materials for recycling either at your home, workplace or from public areas. Find out how it works in your local community before you start preparing to recycle your cardboard.
When preparing your cardboard for recycling, you need to compress it and break it down. This helps to save space in the hauler’s vehicle when transporting the material to the recycling plant. Break the seals on cardboard boxes and flatten them as far as possible, this also helps the recycling process go a little quicker. Be sure to only deposit clean cardboard into your recycling receptacle, remove any food remains and plastic liners for better recycling. Take note that waxed, wet, or soiled cardboard is not good for recycling, but can be composted. Find out from your local recycling haulers how to send these materials for composting, or use them for your own compost-making project.
There are two types of cardboard that you are able to recycle, namely boxboard and corrugated cardboard. Boxboard is a lighter thinner cardboard used for food packaging, while corrugated cardboard is a thicker and more sturdy material used for heavy duty transport of goods. It is possible to recycle both of these cardboard types together.
The Process of cardboard recycling
Once the cardboard leaves your home and is collected at the recycling plant, it is sorted and baled into manageable bundles before being sent to the paper mills. The cardboard is first shredded and pulped before it is blended with new wood pulp to give it some added strength. Water and chemicals are added to form a slurry that breaks down the fibres which will later become new cardboard products.
During this process contaminants are removed using a variety of filters that remove any tape, glue, or metal staples that may be present in the material. The pulp is then put through a filter with special chemicals to remove all types of ink from the pulp mixture. The clean pulp is then moved to a paper machine, where excess water is drained out through a moving screen.
At this point in the process, the pulp has formed a fibre mat which is moved between a set of rollers that squeeze out any remaining water. Next, the material is passed through heated cylinders to dry out before it is rolled into spools. Lastly, the new cardboard is separated into rolls, ready for shipping.
Why You Need to Recycle Cardboard
A single ton of recycled cardboard can save up to 17 trees, and extend the life of landfills as well. Recycling comes with many other benefits too. Cardboard recycling not only reduces the number of trees used but also reduces pollution in the environment. Recycling contributes far less greenhouse gas emissions than the paper-making process, as well as using less water and reduced energy consumption.
While conserving resources and reducing pollution, recycling cardboard also creates many more jobs, positively impacting the rate of employment. In regions where companies need to pay for waste removal by weight, recycling can help to extensively reduce these costs.
Recycled cardboard is a high-quality material. Contrary to popular belief, it remains a strong material after being recycled many times without losing any of its strength. Recycled cardboard is also cheaper to manufacture and purchase.
Recycling may take a little extra time out of your day, but in the end, the benefits outweigh the time spent.
Do you recycle all your unwanted cardboard packaging? Will you be recycling more cardboard now?