Every year, more than 8 million tons of cardboard is produced in the UK to be used for packaging. Initially, that sounds like an unbelievably huge quantity, but when you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense, because just about everything we buy these days has been packaged in cardboard! Reducing cardboard waste is currently of growing importance amongst companies.
Smaller items like shoes and cereals are packaged in the thinner grey paperboard, then the larger items like furniture and appliances, are packaged in thicker, more durable corrugated cardboard.
HOW IS CARDBOARD RECYCLED?
When recycling cardboard, the first stage of the process is for the material to be soaked and agitated to release all of its cellulose fibres. This process of agitation turns the material and water into a fibre pulp.
Contaminants including plastic coatings, tape and string are removed, then the pulp is placed on a moving mat which allows the majority of the water to drain off. The pulped material passes through rollers to remove the remaining water and a fibre mat is formed. Once dry, the recycled material can be used to make new packaging and the recycling process is complete.
Cardboard cannot be recycled infinitely. The fibres, (originally created from wood pulp), begin to shorten, then eventually they disintegrate, so many packaging producers combine a percentage of recycled material with new, virgin cardboard.
REDUCING CARDBOARD WASTE
When looking at ways to improve your waste management, the first place to focus your energy should always be reduction. First, examine ways to reduce the quantity of waste you produce or handle.
As a consumer, this is not always easy, but as a business owner with more buying power, you may be able to put pressure on and encourage other companies and suppliers to be more responsible about reducing waste by keeping their packaging to a minimum.
RECYCLING CARDBOARD AT HOME
Aside from using your local recycling collection to dispose of waste cardboard in the home, anyone with a garden can use cardboard in their compost pile. Providing it has not been covered in an excessive amount of ink, or coated with any plastics, cardboard is a biodegradable material, which can be soaked and layered to break down naturally in your compost bin.
Another use for cardboard in the garden is to use it for mulching or as a temporary weed suppressant. Cardboard will gradually biodegrade beneath the surface of the earth, but in the short term, it will help you to keep weeds under control naturally!
Clean cardboard boxes are always useful and can be reused for storage or for transporting and shipping parcels or moving house.
RECYCLING CARDBOARD AS A BUSINESS
Businesses producing large amounts of cardboard waste, should explore the options in terms of their waste management. Baling cardboard is an effective way to reduce the sheer bulk of the material and some companies who specialise in waste recycling will be happy to provide you with equipment free of charge on the basis that you allow them to collect all of the baled material in return. This is a cost effective and highly convenient option for many business owners.
Regardless of scale, recycling all of your cardboard waste, as a homeowner or a business owner is the responsible thing to do. Recycling is a far more sustainable option than cutting down any more trees than necessary to make virgin paper and cardboard products.
Waste materials like cardboard are a useful resource and recycling responsibly benefits both the environment and our communities at the same time.
WANT MORE INFORMATION
Here at Phoenix Compactors & Balers we offer a range of baling equipment to suit the requirements of businesses large and small so if you are struggling with your cardboard waste management then perhaps it’s time you looked into either buying or renting some equipment to take the strain?