Cardboard is known for its toughness and durability. It is widely used for packaging in the home, by commercial businesses, offices and the logistics industry, making it one of the most common waste materials. Cardboard waste is largely created by packaging, for example, cereal packets, egg cartons, storage and transportation boxes. In 2016, paper and cardboard was the highest waste product arising in the UK, creating approximately 4.7 million tonnes.
Despite the waste created, cardboard is actually an environmentally friendly, recyclable material. Cardboard and paper recycling is the reuse and reprocessing of thick layers of paper. Here are the steps on how waste cardboard can be recycled:
Collecting and Sorting
The first step to recycling cardboard is its collection. Old cardboard boxes that can no longer be used are collected by solid waste or recycling contractors. Waste cardboard is taken to different drop off points such as stores, commercial outlets, scrap yards or the local tip. After collection, the waste is weighed, measured and transferred to recycling facilities.
Once the waste cardboard is sorted, only certain types of cardboard are accepted for recycling. Different types of cardboard undergo different processes of recycling.
Shredding and pulping
After sorting, the waste is broken down by shredding. After this, the cardboard shreds are mixed with chemicals and water to produce pulp − a thick paste-like substance. It is mixed with new pulp, commonly made from woodchips, to produce a firm substance.
Filtering is the process where the pulp is cleaned by removing small items such as string, metal and plastic. They are removed using a centrifuge, which causes foreign material to float to the top of the mixture.
After removing unnecessary materials, chemicals are mixed with the filtered pulp to prepare it for drying. The pulp is put on a heated conveyor belt to remove excess water and dry the pulp. The drying process helps form the shape of cardboard, otherwise known as liner boards. Once the pulp is dry, it is glued together to produce the final product.
Although a lot of paper and cardboard waste is produced, recycling it helps to conserve resources and reduce pollution. By planning for the responsible recycling of waste, you’ll improve efficiency and save on disposal costs.