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Cardboard (also referred to as corrugated cardboard) is a high-quality recyclable material made of paper. Cardboard is the highest value grade of paper, as its durability means long paper fibers.
The most common forms are corrugated cardboard and grey paperboard, which is used for boxes and other packaging material.
Cardboard recycling is the reprocessing and reuse of thick sheets or stiff multilayered papers that have been used or regarded as waste.
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Cardboard is amongst the most frequently generated waste products in virtually any business or institute. Recycling cardboard saves them money on waste disposal costs. Recycling is also good for the planet and your local community because it helps conserve valuable resources, reduces pollution from the production of new materials, and creates jobs.
Is all cardboard recyclable?
No, waxed, wet, and soiled cardboard is not recyclable but can be composted at commercial composting operations.
Recycling cardboard boxes
Cut any tape used to seal the top and/or bottom of the box, then collapse the box. You don’t need to remove the tape, but most recyclers prefer that boxes are flattened to save space. For boxes that contained huge items, you may need to fold or cut the flattened box in half for it to fit in your recycling cart. Some programs also allow you to set large boxes next to the cart, but don’t put them out in the rain. Wet cardboard is not recyclable. For boxes that are food-soiled (such as pizza boxes), cut out any oil stains before recycling. Food-soiled cardboard is also not recyclable.
Where can I recycle cardboard?
Drop cardboard at your local recycling center. It is very likely they have cardboard recycling containers that are capable of accepting large amounts of cardboard. Break down all your cardboard boxes, remove plastic and other contaminants, load them in the back of a car, and drive them over.
There are also other ways to dispose of cardboard like:
Re-use: When you have plenty of cardboard boxes at your disposal, just use them for storage purposes. Small cardboard boxes can be used to store items that are not used too frequently. School children can use these cardboard boxes for their school projects.
Cardboard recycling centers
Recovered fibers from recycled cardboard are a major raw material for paper mills and packaging plants. Once picked up from the business or institution, the cardboard is hauled to cardboard recycling centers where it is sorted and baled.
Explanation of the process of cardboard recycling
Collection - Collection is the first step in recycling cardboard. Recyclers and businesses collect the waste cardboard in cardboard recycling containers. The separated cardboard is transported to a cardboard recycling plant.
Sorting – Once the waste cardboard reaches the cardboard recycling center, it needs sorting. This sorting is done based on the type of cardboard, with the two popular types being boxboard and corrugated board.
After the sorting is done, the cardboard is then baled. For this purpose, machines such as cardboard balers are used to ensure that the cardboard is compressed into compact bales that are easy to handle.
Shredding and pulping – The next step is shredding and then pulping follows. Shredding is done to break down the cardboard paper fibers into minute pieces. When the material is shredded, it is soaked in water. Cardboard recycling centers will also use chemicals that hasten the pulping process. The pulped material is then blended with new pulp, generally from wood chips that ultimately help the resulting substance to solidify and become firmer.
Filtering, conterminal removal and de-inking – The pulped material is taken through a comprehensive filtering process to get rid of all the foreign materials present as well as impurities such as tape, strings, or glue. The pulp further goes into a chamber where contaminants like plastics and metals staples are removed through a centrifuge-like process.
The next process is de-inking, any color that the pulp has will also be removed by using a floatation device that employs de-colorization chemicals.
Finishing for reuse - At this stage, we are looking at pulp that is ready to be given the desired shape. Virgin paper materials are added, followed by drying. Drying is done either on a conveyor belt or table. As it dries, the material is fed through a machine that squeezes out excess water and helps the fibers to form a solid sheet called a linerboard. The linerboards are glued together, layer by layer to make a new piece of cardboard.
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