Is Cardboard Recyclable? How Is It Properly Disposed?
Cardboard is a highly recyclable form of paper with a recycling rate of 96.5%1. The authorities save several cubic yards of landfill space annually by recycling cardboard.
Recycling cardboard to make new paper products is relatively easier than cutting trees for the same purpose. So, if you have tons of cardboard in your home, recycling is the best option to get rid of it at once. However, you must know what type of cardboard can be recycled, how to prepare the cardboard for recycling, and the benefits of doing so.
You should also know how the system works to dispose of cardboard without harming the environment. Let’s explore more about cardboard recycling in this post.
What Types of Cardboard Can Be Recycled?
Cardboard is of two main types, both of which are made of high-quality paper. Both cardboard forms can be recycled if not contaminated with plastic, glass, or other materials.
If you don’t know what type of cardboard you have, you can ask a professional to help you sort out the material. Doing so will save you lots of time.
How to Prepare Your Cardboard for Recycling
Recycling cardboard products can save significant landfill space and millions of trees since the material comes from wood fiber. You can recycle almost every type of cardboard product, including tubes, boxes, etc. Some waste management companies may ask you to follow strict requirements, however.
Most of these companies require people to flatten their cardboard boxes before submitting. Some would be fine taking boxes with tapes and labels, while others will refuse to take greasy pizza boxes or waxy cartons.
You can also check with your local municipal waste collection authority before preparing your cardboard boxes for recycling. Here are some general instructions:
The 7 Steps to Recycle Cardboard
Recycling cardboard is a professional’s job. The process may seem easy, but it is pretty long and consists of multiple steps. The typical process includes the following steps:
The first step is to submit the cardboard to the local recycling company. If you haven’t already, review your state’s disposal and collection laws now. You can also stop by your local government office and ask about the collection policies.
If you reside in Arizona, you must drop the cardboard and other recyclables at the Materials Recovery Facility. Similarly, your state may have a different facility for this purpose.
The next step is to store your cardboard in the right place. The optimal storage location for cardboard is an open space because it doesn’t make the boxes wet or contaminated with plastic or other non-cardboard materials.
When your pickup company’s truck arrives to take the cardboard, you need to ensure that the professionals know how to sort different types of cardboard. Sorting is performed before loading the stuff into the truck.
For instance, corrugated boxes can be broken and recycled multiple times. However, they won’t get recycled if other cardboard materials mix with them. That’s why sorting cardboard is essential.
As the trucks reach the recycling facility, the cardboard is unloaded and sent for crushing. Since it is made from paper pulp, it must be crushed into small pieces before being processed and reused. This process is crucial in cutting down costs. The better it goes, the more transit costs you save.
5. Moisture Removal
The cardboard is then treated in a water separator to remove all the excess moisture. This stage is critical in reducing the weight and volume of the cardboard so that transporting it becomes easier and less costly.
Once the moisture is removed, the cardboard is sent through a pulper machine that breaks the remaining paper lumps. Pulping ensures that the recycled cardboard is free of water. After pulping, the residual water in the sheets is drained completely.
The last and final stage is breaking or shredding the paper into smaller pieces via a shredder. The type of shredder used in this stage varies depending on what you want to do with the pulped cardboard. For example, making paper or new cardboard boxes out of it.
Once shredded, the paper pulp is mixed with water before transforming into a new product. Many companies also add different chemicals to make varying products out of paper pulp.
What Cardboard Products Can’t Be Recycled?
In some instances, you may not be able to recycle a cardboard product because of your local government’s rules. The regulations for cardboard recycling vary depending on the state.
Generally, there are a few cardboard products that you can’t recycle. These include:
Why Should You Recycle Cardboard?
Now that you know everything about recycling, you may wonder why you even have to recycle cardboard in the first place. After all, you can just put it outside for the garbage company to pick up.
But if you dispose of cardboard, you can get tons of benefits for the environment and yourself. Here are a few reasons you should always recycle cardboard:
Cardboard is of two major types: corrugated and paperboard. Both can be easily recycled at your nearest waste management facility or local recycling center. However, some cardboard items can’t be recycled. These include greased pizza boxes, wet cardboard, and waxy juice cartons.
You can contact professional recycling professionals to sort out your boxes. The typical cardboard recycling process includes 7 steps: collection, storage, sorting, crushing, de-watering, pulping, and shredding.
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