Is cardboard sustainable?

In this article, we discuss the various aspects of cardboard that make it a sustainable product.

Cardboard is the most often used packaging material, and it has been for a long time. It can be made in almost any colour, and it’s sturdy enough to support a significant amount of weight.

Cardboard may also be used as a storage container. Most of the time, we keep books, outdated clothing, household utensils, and other items in old cardboard boxes. To summarise, cardboards are useful for a variety of uses, including moving boxes.

Is cardboard sustainable?

Yes, cardboards are sustainable. Cardboard is a good alternative for packing that is good for the environment. They’re made to endure a wide range of weights, repel moisture to some extent, and even keep our food fresh. 

Aside from the production process, cardboard boxes are also fantastic since they are completely ecologically friendly.

Is Cardboard Biodegradable?

Cardboard is a plant-based material that may be used for packing. The substance in question, however, is paper, and we all know how biodegradable it is.

Let’s take a step back and break things down. When a substance is biodegradable, it takes anything from 2 weeks to 8 months for it to spontaneously disintegrate. 

Microorganisms, sunshine, water, and air, among other things, work together to break it down and convert it to soil.

Because cardboard is created from paper, it is a renewable resource. Paper is biodegradable and will degrade in two months under the appropriate conditions. There are, however, several requirements that must be met.

Cardboard boxes are a great way to package anything. Manufacturers utilise these boxes for packing food goods like milk, cereals, and even eggs, in addition to transportation and storage.

While these boxes are biodegradable as well, the wax coating slows down the process. 

But, of course, it doesn’t completely stop the process; it only slows it down long enough for the wax to disintegrate and melt away, or for time and weather to take their toll. 

This normally takes around 5 years, although it might take less.

Cardboard boxes are biodegradable and decompose quickly. Simply soak the boxes in warm frothy water for a few minutes to speed up the process. 

This will break down the paper fibres into tiny bits, making it simpler for the microbes to do their task. You may add cardboard to a compost pile since it is biodegradable.

It’ll decompose quickly and provide a healthy source of fertiliser for your soil and plants. The best aspect is that, unlike some other compostable materials, cardboard has no odour.

Can cardboard boxes be recycled?


Cardboard, often known as corrugated cardboard, is a recyclable material that small and large enterprises recycle to save money on trash disposal expenses.

The reprocessing and reuse of thick sheets or stiff multilayered papers that have been used, abandoned, or regarded as garbage is known as cardboard recycling.

Cardboard boxes are often made of heavy-duty or thick-sheets of paper that are noted for their toughness and durability. Packaging boxes, egg cartons, shoe boxes, and cereal boxes are all examples of cardboard.

Recycling is beneficial to us since it not only protects our environment by decreasing pollution, but it also conserves important resources and generates jobs.

Recycling cardboard is a good method to keep the environment clean and green.

Advantages of Cardboard Recycling

Recycling cardboard provides several advantages. Some of these are:

  • Saves Landfill Space
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Promotes the Use of Renewable Materials
  • Saves Energy
  • Saves Trees
  • Reduces Greenhouse Gases

We shall discuss these in more detail.

Saves Landfill Space

Cardboard garbage accounts for around 40% of all municipal waste disposed of in landfills. Cardboard recycling aids in the reduction of cardboard waste dumped in landfills. 

More than 9 cubic yards of landfill area is saved each tonne of cardboard. On this premise, cardboard recycling contributes to environmental cleanliness and supports a healthy human environment.


Environmental Conservation

100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard materials are used. As a result, it decreases its environmental imprint and deterioration by providing “green” packaging alternatives. 

Some cardboard is made from almost 100 percent recycled materials, while the majority is averaged at 70 percent to 90 percent .

Due to its high reuse percentage in the production of new cardboard products, recycling cardboard is also a critical solution for environmental conservation by preserving natural resources.

Promotes the Use of Renewable Materials

The wood chips used in pulping are manufactured from birch or pine tree pulp, which has a high percentage of recyclable material. Furthermore, these trees are simple to cultivate in a variety of environments.

In comparison to hardwood trees, they are likewise fast-growing.

Because of their ability to develop quickly in a variety of environments and their recyclable nature, they may be controlled and harvested in a sustainable manner, boosting the use of renewable resources.

Saves Energy


The quantity of energy necessary to create corrugated packaging materials is greatly decreased due to the maximum percentage of cardboard recyclability, and the saved energy may be utilised to manufacture other resources.

Recycling cardboard uses just 75% of the energy it takes to manufacture new cardboard. Recycling cardboard saves 90 percent of the water and 50 percent of the power required to manufacture it.

Furthermore, they are created from locally sourced materials that may be obtained in a sustainable manner.

On this foundation, cardboard recycling’s transportation and production costs are lowered, but it also excels at supplying materials with better structural strength for packing or safeguarding items in transit. 

This means no unnecessary resources and energy are needed to make fresh cardboard. As a result, recycling cardboard saves energy and materials needed to make new cardboard and also reduces environmental pollution.

Saves Trees

Trees provide the raw materials for cardboard and paper. Another benefit of cardboard recycling to the environment is that it reduces the amount of trees chopped down each year. Global warming has been exacerbated by deforestation.

However, thanks to new technology that informs cardboard recycling, the need to cut down trees to generate additional materials is rapidly decreasing, which is beneficial to the environment.

When 1 tonne of cardboard paper is recycled, it is estimated that 12 to 31 trees are spared, helping to sustain the natural environment and ecology in general.

As a result, the environment and humanity as a whole will benefit. When a person recycles all of the paper they make in a year, they prevent about one tree from being chopped down.

Reduces Greenhouse Gases

Cardboard decomposes naturally since it is biodegradable. However, it can occasionally produce hazardous gases. As a result, recycling them reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

The carbon dioxide produced by incinerating 1 tonne of paper is up to 750 kg. One of the greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change is carbon dioxide (CO2).

When virgin fibres are replaced with recycled paper and cardboard in the paper industry, 2.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent is avoided. Recycling also cuts pollutants in the water and air by 35% and 74%, respectively.

Furthermore, when cardboard is discarded in a landfill, it normally decomposes and generates a dangerous greenhouse gas known as “methane.” Methane is known to contribute 20 percent more to global warming than the effect of CO2.

How are cardboard boxes recycled?

There are five major steps that take place in the process of cardboard recycling, which are:

  • Collection
  • Sorting
  • Shredding and Pulping
  • Filtering, Coterminal Removal, and De-Inking
  • Finishing for Reuse

We shall discuss these in more detail.

Collection

The first stage in recycling cardboard is “collection.” Waste cardboard is collected at specified cardboard collection stations by recyclers and enterprises.

Trash cans, retailers, scrap yards, and commercial outlets that create cardboard waste make up the majority of the collecting places. They are then measured and taken to recycling facilities, primarily paper mills, after being collected.

Certain forms of cardboard are permitted at this time, while others are not, depending on how they were used or made.

In most situations, waxed and coated cardboard, as well as cardboard used for food packaging, are not accepted since they go through a distinct specialised recycling process.


Sorting

When the corrugated boxes arrive at the recycling centre, they are separated into several categories based on the materials they are composed of. 

Corrugated cardboard and boxboard are the most common classifications. Thin cardboards, such as those used for cardboard drink containers or cereal boxes, are called boxboards.

Corrugated boxes are larger and more rigid boxes that are often used to package and transport products. Sorting is necessary because paper mills produce different grades of materials depending on the items that are recovered.


Shredding and pulping

After sorting, the next process is shredding, which is followed by pulping. The cardboard paper strands are broken down into minute fragments by shredding.

After the material has been finely shredded into small bits, it is combined with water and chemicals to break down the paper fibres, resulting in a slurry.

Pulping is the word for this procedure. The pulped material is then mixed with additional pulp, usually made from wood chips, to assist the final product solidify and become harder.


Filtering, Coterminal Removal, and De-Inking

After that, the pulp is filtered thoroughly to remove any foreign elements as well as contaminants like threads, tape, or glue.

The pulp is next processed using a centrifuge-like process to remove impurities such as plastics and metal staples. Plastics float to the top, whereas heavy metal staples sink to the bottom and are subsequently removed.

The pulp is then placed in a flotation device made composed of chemicals that filter and screen out any colours or ink. This phase is also known as the cleaning process since it completely cleans the pulp before moving on to the next stage of processing.

Finishing for Reuse

The cleaned pulp is combined with new manufacturing ingredients at this stage, following which it is dried on a flat conveyor belt and heated cylindrical surfaces.

As the pulp dries, it passes through an automated machine that squeezes out excess water and aids in the development of long rolls of solid sheet from the fibres known as linerboards and mediums.

To build a new piece of cardboard, the linerboards are bonded together layer by layer.

In certain circumstances, the medium is a corrugated sheet that is fed through two massive metal rolls with teeth to create the ridges. As the thin outer covering, linerboards are attached to the medium.

Alternatively, linerboards and mediums are sent to boxboard producers, where the production process is finished by machines that shape and generate a crease following pattern folds to produce boxes for packing or shipping things.

Conclusion

Cardboards are sustainable. Cardboard is a good alternative for packing that is good for the environment. They’re made to endure a wide range of weights, repel moisture to some extent, and even keep our food fresh. 

Aside from the production process, cardboard boxes are also fantastic since they are completely ecologically friendly.

Recycling cardboard provides several advantages. Some of these are:

  • Saves Landfill Space
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Promotes the Use of Renewable Materials
  • Saves Energy
  • Saves Trees
  • Reduces Greenhouse Gases

FAQs

Does recycling cardboard save water?

Yes, recycling cardboard helps to save water. A substantial amount of water is used in the production of paper goods such as cardboard from wood components.

However, because recycled cardboard has already been treated, less water is required for the manufacturing of new materials.

When compared to virgin fibre manufacturing, recycling paper saves 80 percent of water. In a nutshell, you are saving approximately 7000 gallons or more than 25000 litres of water on every tonne of cardboard you recycle.

What type of recycling is cardboard?

Cardboard, commonly known as old corrugated cardboard (OCC), is a conveniently recyclable material with established processing and manufacturing markets locally. As cardboard is collected in your facility, make sure it is kept clean and dry.

Does Recycled cardboard lose durability?

No, recycled cardboard retains its strength and durability. Corrugated cardboard retains the same quality or qualities after recycling and is also more cost-effective.

References

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