Understanding Cardboard Recycling

If you or the company you work for are responsible for lots of cardboard waste, you may well wonder how best to deal with it in an eco-friendly way. While sending it for recycling or re-using it as packaging are great options, obviously, it’s really important that you separate any waste cardboard from the rest of your rubbish so that it doesn’t go straight to landfill. Let’s have a look at what you can do with the cardboard once you have separated it.

  • If you produce a lot of cardboard waste, then it’s worth arranging for a waste courier company to collect it or drop it off at a collection centre yourself. You could use containers or skips to collect cardboard prior to this type of disposal to avoid unnecessary journeys.
  • For a lesser amount of cardboard waste, it’s worth considering a shredder that will enable the output to be reused as packaging material and therefore save you money too.
  • Another option is to use a cardboard baler that will compress the cardboard waste into a neat bale which can then be sold to a local recycling company. This will not only bring in revenue but also clear space that was being used to store bulky cardboard sheets and boxes. 

Different types of cardboard

The most common types of cardboard are corrugated and grey paperboard which are usually used for boxes and packaging material.

  • Corrugated cardboard is used to make cardboard boxes and is comprised of multiple layers of corrugated and flat cardboard so it is strong, durable and thick, perfect for packaging goods ready to be transported
  • Paperboard is made of cardboard that has already been recycled and looks like ordinary paper but is a little thicker and usually grey. It is normally used to produce shoe and cereal boxes and although it is quite sturdy, it is easier to tear and fold than corrugated cardboard.

Which cardboard can be recycled?

Pretty much all cardboard waste can be recycled but any that has been contaminated with oil or grease, for instance, a pizza box, is unable to be recycled into cardboard of acceptable quality. Cardboard that is wet is also unsuitable for recycling because it clogs up the machines that are used to sort material at the start of the recycling process.

Is cardboard recycling really important? 

If you are wondering if it is worth taking the time to recycle cardboard waste, rest assured it really is not only because it is the environmentally friendly thing to do but also because it helps to stop the march of deforestation which is robbing our beautiful planet of so many trees. What’s more, as a natural product made from wood fibres, cardboard is a great material to make every effort to recycle.

What does the process of recycling cardboard involve?

First of all, cardboard waste needs to be separated from other waste to be collected or taken to a recycling plant or dropped at a collection point. The recycling plant will use machines to press the cardboard into large bales which are then delivered to paper mills.

Here, the cardboard will then be unbaled and mixed into water which will turn it into greywater and cardboard pulp and this will then be filtered to remove any impurities or contaminants. The next stage of the process is to mix and press the cleaned cardboard pulp into the shape of a noodle before it is fed into a papermaking machine where any water is removed so that the material left can be dried into long paper rolls which are then wound onto a huge spool. The material on these spools that often weigh about 6.5 tons can then be used to make any cardboard product

Selling cardboard waste for recycling

If you decide to sell your cardboard waste rather than have it collected or drop it off at a collection point, then obviously it makes sense to weigh it first so you do actually get what it’s worth.  It might therefore be worth investing in a pallet truck that has a built-in scale, some of them also have the facility to print a label detailing the weight of each bale or bundle.

An easier alternative would be to turn to the Green Alchemist for help in selling your cardboard waste. The Green Alchemist is a marketplace for buyers and sellers of recyclable waste where you can find thousands of waste couriers and reprocessors who can handle cardboard recycling as well as plastic recycling, glass recycling, paper recycling and other types of recyclable waste.