How do you prepare cardboard for recycling?

8th Jul 2021

Looking to improve and expand on your recycling habits? Don’t forget cardboard, then! This commonly used material is especially prominent in industrial environments, so it’s vital that your business recycles it wherever possible.

For cardboard to be recycled 100% of the time, it must be prepared properly. If you throw it in a DMR bin then you rely on sorting by your waste collector; recycling levels drop considerably by mixing materials together.

What cardboard can be recycled?

Cardboard comes in many forms, and most of them can be recycled. However, there are some exceptions you should be aware of before you start preparing this material to be recycled.

Yes, you can recycle paperboard: that’s the thin material that’s used in cereal and shoe boxes. You can also recycle corrugated carboard, the thicker type that you’ll find in the packaging of heavier items. You’re likely to receive some of this with your Amazon deliveries!

Be careful with food and drink packaging, though. To keep consumables fresh, some cardboard packaging is coated with special protective substances. Depending on what this substance is, it may exclude the cardboard from standard recycling processes. The most common one would be Tetra that is used in Milk, Fruit and Yoghurt drinks.

Remember to remove and food or drink from the cardboard before you recycle it, too. For example, you can recycle a pizza box, but only if you remove any part that is greasy. It’s vitally important that all cardboard is kept dry before it is collected. Wet cardboard is disliked by recyclers..

Another exception is glitter cardboard, for example the kind used in greetings cards. This isn’t eligible for recycling, either. In general, you can find out if your carboard is recyclable by simply checking for the recycling symbol.

Preparing cardboard to be recycled

First, collect all cardboard waste at a designated area. Use waterproof recycling bins to protect it from the elements or simply place it directly into a waste baler.

Cardboard should be sorted before it’s given to the recycling company. Boxes should also be broken down because flattened boxes are easier to collect. To break them down, you can use scissors, a knife, or a box cutter if your cardboard is being taken loose.

Remove plastic packaging and bubble wrap or other packaging accessories. You don’t need to remove tape. Cut away any stained or greasy parts of the cardboard and dispose of them: there’s no recycling market for it.

Use a cardboard baler if you have one. This will compress your waste, meaning it requires less space and is easier to transport.

Business benefits of cardboard recycling

Did you know that cardboard recycling can be a revenue generator for your business? Maybe you didn’t realise that environmental sustainability could also lead to greater business sustainability!

It achieves this through rebate fees. The government offers financial relief for businesses that are able to reduce their overall emissions. You can also cut your waste collection costs by sending a substantial amount to recycling!

Because the environment is at the top of the agenda right now, participating in recycling programs could even improve public relations. Consumers seem to be more conscious than ever: they want evidence of a company’s commitment to social responsibility objectives.

Preparing my business to recycle cardboard

To maximise the amount of cardboard your business recycles, you need to achieve buy-in from all of the team. A good idea is to give one person coordination responsibilities. They might be willing to provide an informative input at the next team meeting, explaining how cardboard recycling works and why it is important.  Having a ‘Recycling Champion’ at the helm really makes sense.

Follow this up by placing signage throughout your premises explaining what cardboard can be recycled and the procedure that your team should follow. Make sure you have specific, dry spots where cardboard can be stored before it’s recycled, too.

The positive impact of cardboard recycling

Preparing cardboard for recycling might require a little extra effort, but it’s worth it. After all, every ton of recycled cardboard saves approximately 9 cubic yards of landfill space.

If your company commits to recycling all the cardboard it can, then you can make a meaningful impact on the environment. Doing this reduces greenhouse gases in more ways than one. When we recycle paper and cardboard, we reduce the need to import these materials. That means less emissions! Plus all of your shredded cardboard can then be turned into quality low-cost packaging.

Deforestation is a major contributing factor to our worsening climate crisis. Recycling cardboard is one way to reduce the number of trees that are chopped down for industry.

Another positive impact you may not have considered is the fact that waste management creates jobs. When we recycle materials like cardboard, then, we help to provide employment opportunities.

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