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What happens to my cardboard?

There are two types of materials that the general public terms "cardboard." The first is corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard is a strong, versatile packaging material that is made from two strips of flat cardboard on the top and bottom, and a wavy "corrugated" or fluted strip running through the center. It is most commonly found in boxes used for packaging and shipping items and is universally accepted for recovery and recycling. The second type of material that is dubbed "cardboard" by the general public is actually paperboard-a flat, pressed stiff paper. It is commonly used for lighter packaging such as cereal and snack food boxes and is less valuable in the recycling process. Both types of material are accepted by many curbside recycling programs. However, most require that corrugated cardboard boxes be broken down (flattened) and there are often size restrictions for curbside pick up.


Homes and Businesses Recycle Cardboard

Cardboard, like newspaper is a recycling success story. Today over 90 percent of all products in the U.S. are shipped in corrugated cardboard boxes. Encouragingly, 70 percent of all corrugated cardboard is recovered for recycling-making it the largest source of waste paper collected for recycling. This is due in part to the fact that many businesses, as well as homes, recycle cardboard. Case in point is Iowa's grocery industry which recycles 500,000 tons of cardboard each year.

Cardboard Recycling Facts

  • Corrugated cardboard is often made of recycled content and almost always made of post-consumer material.
  • Corrugated cardboard is more environmentally friendly than ever before. It can accept non-toxic water-based inks and also be processed without bleaching.
  • Even raw materials used to make corrugated cardboard-including lumber industry byproducts such as sawdust and wood chips-are renewable resources.
  • Corrugated cardboard manufactured from recycled pulp uses about 75% of the energy used in the manufacture of corrugated cardboard made from virgin pulp.
  • Corrugated packaging is a $17 billion per-year industry-the largest segment of the entire packaging industry.

Paper Recycles. Org

American Forest and Paper Association