Collection” is the first step in recycling cardboard. Recyclers and businesses collect the waste cardboard at designated cardboard collection points.
The majority of the collection points include trash bins, stores, scrap yards, and commercial outlets that generate cardboard. After collection, they are then measured and hauled to recycling facilities, mostly paper mills.
Once the corrugated boxes arrive at the recycling facility, they are sorted according to the materials they are made of. In most cases, they are classified into corrugated cardboard and boxboard. Boxboards are the ones that are thin such as those used for cardboard drink containers or cereals boxes.
After sorting is done, the next step is shredding, and then pulping follows. Shredding is done to break down the cardboard paper fibers into minute pieces. Once the material is finely shredded into pieces, it is mixed with water and chemicals to breakdown the paper fibers that turn it into a slurry substance.
This process is what is termed as pulping. The pulped material is then blended with new pulp, generally from wood chips that ultimately help the resulting substance to solidify and become firmer.
The pulp material is then taken through a comprehensive filtering process to get rid of all the foreign materials present as well as impurities such as strings, tape or glue.
The pulp further goes into a chamber where contaminants like plastics and metals staples are removed through a centrifuge-like process.
The next process, de-inking, involves putting the pulp in a floatation device made up of chemicals that take away any form of dyes or ink via a series of filtering and screening. This step is also called the cleaning process as it cleans the pulp thoroughly to ensure it is ready for the final processing stage.
At this stage, the cleaned pulp is blended with new production materials after which, it is put to dry on a flat conveyor belt and heated cylindrical surfaces.
As the pulp dries, it is passed through an automated machine that press out excess water and facilitates the formation of long rolls of a solid sheet from the fibers called linerboards and mediums. The linerboards are glued together, layer by layer, to make a new piece of cardboard.
In other cases, the medium is used as the corrugated sheet, which is taken through two huge metal rolls with teeth to give it the ridges. Linerboards are then glued to the medium as the thin outer covering.
Alternatively, the linerboards and mediums are ferried to boxboard manufacturers where the manufacturing process is completed by the use of machines that shape and create a crease along pattern folds to make the boxes used for packaging or transporting products.
Cardboard waste dumped in the landfill is about 40% of the total municipal waste. Cardboard recycling helps to reduce the dumping of cardboard waste. One tone of cardboard saves more than 9 cubic yards of landfill space.
The cardboard materials are 100% recyclable and biodegradable. Thus, it reduces and degradation by offering what is termed as “green” packaging solutions. Some cardboard is made from almost 100% recycled materials, while the majority is averaged at 70% to 90%. Recycling cardboard also offers a fundamental solution to by preserving natural resources due to its highest reuse percentage in producing new cardboard products.
The wood chips materials added during pulping are made from birch or pine tree pulp that have a high percentage of recyclable content. They are also first-growing compared to hardwood trees. Due to the fact that they can grow fast in various conditions and their recyclable quality, it means they can be managed and harvested sustainably, thereby promoting the use of renewable materials.
Owing to the highest percentage of cardboard recyclability, the amount of energy required for producing corrugated packing products is tremendously reduced, and the saved energy can be used in the manufacture of other resources. Recycling cardboard requires only 75% of the energy required to make new cardboard. Recycling of cardboard requires 90% less water and 50% less electricity needed to make them. Further. On this basis, the transportation and production costs of cardboard recycling are reduced while at the same time excelling at delivering materials of greater structural strength for packaging or protecting goods in transit. This means no extraneous materials and energy are needed to manufacture new cardboard boxes.
Cardboard and paper come from trees. Another positive impact of recycling cardboard on the environment is the reduction in the number of trees cut down each year. Deforestation has been a significant cause of global warming. But with the latest technology that informs cardboard recycling, the need to cut down trees to produce more materials is reducing gradually, which is good for the environment. It is estimated that when 1 tone of cardboard paper is recycled, about 12 to 31 trees are saved, which further preserves the natural habitat and the ecosystem in general. This, in turn, becomes beneficial to the environment and mankind as a whole. If a person recycles all the paper produced during one year, it saves almost one tree from being cut down.
The process of making paper products like cardboard from wood materials involves the use of a significant amount of water. But, as recycled cardboard had passed through the processed stage already, less water is needed for the production of new materials. Recycling paper saves 80% of water compared to production from virgin fiber. In a nutshell, you are saving approximately 7000 gallons or more than 25000litres of water on every tone of cardboard you recycled.
Recycling creates a lot of job opportunities for people right from the collection of waste cardboard until the filled product reaches the market. This, in turn, adds to the economic stability and growth.
Since cardboard is biodegradable, it decomposes automatically. But sometimes it can emit harmful gases. So if these are recycled, there is a considerable reduction of greenhouse gas emission. Incinerating of paper produces up to 750 kg of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. In paper manufacturing, each time 1 of virgin fibers is replaced by recycled paper and cardboard, 2.3 tones of CO2 equivalent are saved. Recycling also reduces water and air pollution by 35% and 74%, respectively. Besides, cardboard that is trashed at the landfill usually breaks down and releases a toxic greenhouse gas known as “methane.” Methane is known to contribute 20 percent more to global warming than the effect of carbon dioxide.
Recycling one of corrugated containers saves 390 kWh of energy, 1.1 barrels (176 liters) of oil, 6.6 million Btu’s of energy, and 5 cubic meters of landfill. By recycling, the paper-cardboard industry could be supplied with almost 69% of the resources it needs.
Recycled cardboard does not lose durability or resistance. After recycling, corrugated cardboard remains of the same quality or properties and is also more economical.
Cardboard recycling can actually become a source of revenue for you, rather than a waste hauling expense. It also can create a safer and more efficient work environment for your staff.
Recycling is good for our planet as it helps to conserve resources, create jobs and from the production of new materials. Big businesses also recycle items as part of their corporate social responsibility programs, and it also helps them to save money on waste disposal costs.
Many of us buy so many items online; we have lots of cardboard boxes to dispose of. There are several ways to dispose of these items like:
Reuse: When you have plenty of cardboard boxes at your disposal, just use them for storage purposes. You can even make toys for your kids from large cardboard size boxes. You can also use them as containers to separate different items for recycling purposes.
Pass them: You can pass on big cardboard size boxes to your friends or relatives in case they are planning to shift home. Small cardboard boxes can be used to store items that are not used too frequently. School children can use these cardboard boxes for their school projects.
Recycle: All those pieces of cardboard boxes that you are not able to reuse for any reason, you may send them to the local recycling center. Cardboard is accepted at most of the waste recycling centers.