Cardboard is one of the commonly found items in every household, as it is widely used for packing materials ranging from food items to electronic goods. So, along with plastic, clothes and used electronic goods, cardboard too is collected for recycling. Apart from reducing the amount of trash on the earth, cardboard recycling has various other benefits too.
What is Cardboard Recycling
As in case of paper, recycling cardboard is possible and in fact, this type of recycling is a fast growing industry. As it is widely used for various purposes, especially packaging, waste cardboard is found in huge amounts not only in households, but in other establishments as well. When compared to plastic and certain other waste materials, cardboard is not that big a problem, as most types are biodegradable. But, it can still clog up the landfills and as it degrades, cardboard may cause pollution by releasing methane (a greenhouse gas).
In general, recycling can be defined as the process of collecting waste materials that undergo special processes, which transform them into raw materials that are used for making new products. In other words, discarded waste materials are collected, sorted out and processed to form new products. As in case of plastic and other such products, cardboard recycling is also possible.
Which Types of Cardboard can be Recycled
So, some types of cardboard are not recyclable. As far as recycling is concerned, there are two types of cardboard. One is the corrugated type and the other is the regular one that is often found in shoe boxes and cereal packs. In corrugated type, you can find a wavy piece of cardboard affixed between two flat cardboard sheets. The other type that is found in cereal boxes is actually flat cardboard or paper board, which is mainly made of recycled corrugated cardboard.
There are certain types of cardboard that are not fit for recycling. They include milk cartons that are found to come with wax coating, so as to prevent leakage of milk. Even pizza boxes are not used for cardboard recycling, as they have grease. Chemically treated cardboard and chipboard are also not used for recycling. Before recycling, every type of plastic and Styrofoam attachments are removed from the cardboard. But, staples and tapes can be retained, as the machines at the processing plant are equipped to remove such things. If you plan to sell cardboard for recycling, remove all the above said undesirable things and flatten them, before packing. Do not include wet cardboard, those with wax coating and those stained with food and oil.
How is Cardboard Recycled
During recycling, cardboard is soaked and agitated, so that the individual fibers can be released to form pulp, which is mixed with wood pulp. This is because, cardboard recycling (including repeated recycling) will cause disintegration of cellulose fibers, which will get weaker and shorter. The blended form of recycled cardboard pulp and wooden pulp is called the medium, which is then corrugated with the help of special machines. The corrugated medium is then bonded between two liner boards. This product called 'mat' is then trimmed to standard size. They are also creased, along the pattern of corrugations. Once the users buy these mats, they prepare boxes, as per their requirements. Cardboard pulp is also used for making toilet paper as well as paper towels. For this purpose, paper pulp is mixed with cardboard pulp. You may also find recycled cardboard in cat litters, wood products, fiber boards and a wide range of other products. It is said that once new cardboard is produced, it can be recycled for a maximum of five to seven times only.
Cardboard Recycling Benefits
Benefits of recycling cardboard can be classified into two categories - economical and environmental. These benefits are almost similar to that of paper recycling. As in case of paper, cardboard too is made of wood. If you recycle cardboard, you can save thousands of trees. This is more applicable for new cardboard making from virgin fiber, which requires trees to be cut. You can save trees by replacing virgin fiber paper towels with recycled ones. New cardboard or paper production is a process that involves pollution which can be curtailed to some extent, by using recycled cardboard. As far as the economic benefits is concerned, cardboard recycling is a growing industry. By recycling cardboard, you can save the disposal fees (that may be charged to dispose off waste cardboard) and make some money by selling this cardboard (for recycling). In case of supermarkets that may come up with tons of cardboard a year, recycling is one of the good options, as they don't have to pay for disposing used cardboard, at the same time, extra money can be earned by selling it to recycling unit. If you frequently come up with waste cardboard, store them properly and inquire about the cardboard recycling prices and such recycling facilities near your house.
In short, the facts mentioned above points out that, 'don't throw reusable cardboard in trash, but rather, make some cash out of it.' The other way to tackle waste cardboard is to give a 'wake up call' to the creative side of your personality and start using cardboard to make some useful things.