Source: Castleski /Shutterstock.comDoes all your online shopping have you feeling guilty? We can’t absolve you from buying things you don’t need online. But we can assure you that you needn’t feel guilty about the cardboard box they came in. Recycling is key to a clean conscience when it comes to reducing your environmental footprint, so make sure to reference the helpful tips for recycling cardboard at home or the office.
Cardboard Is One of the Most Recyclable Materials
When it’s trash vs. recycling in the fight for the environment, recycling always wins. Cardboard can be recycled five to seven times. And that’s a good thing because about 400 billion square feet of cardboard are used in packaging annually in the U.S. and EU. All of that cardboard makes up 41 percent of our trash.
Despite being easily recyclable, about 17.2 million tons of paper and cardboard are thrown into U.S. landfills each year. That amounts to over 400 million trees.
And if all that doesn’t convince you to recycle cardboard, consider this. Recycling one ton of cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil, 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water.
Are you ready to commit to purchasing recycling and trash bags made from recycled materials? We can help!
Source: Ilin Sergey /Shutterstock.comLearn More About Trash vs. Recycling Here
Tips for Recycling Cardboard
Even if cardboard is easily recycled, that doesn’t mean it’s always simple for those suffering under the weight of boxes of excessive purchases.
Between Styrofoam stuffing, pizza grease and a profusion of packing tape, recycling cardboard isn’t as straightforward as it seems. The following tips will answer your most pressing questions about recycling cardboard.
- Remove the packing materials inside. Yes, that means that stray little Styrofoam peanut stuck in the corner.
- Flatten the box, even if you have to walk to the kitchen or across the warehouse for a knife to cut the tape.
- Feel free to leave the tape attached to the cardboard. The process at the recycling facility will remove foreign materials like tape from the cardboard.
- Don’t send wet cardboard to the recycler.
- Put the cardboard in recycling bags if you store it outside.
- Don’t throw wet cardboard in the garbage. Once it dries, it’s okay to send it to the recycler.
- It’s okay to send most damaged cardboard to the recycler. Dented and ripped cardboard is perfectly recyclable.
- Don’t send cardboard contaminated with food, grease or oil. Pizza boxes or that piece you put on the garage floor to catch your car’s oil leak are no longer recyclable. These items belong in large black trash bags instead.
- Although still recyclable, cardboard milk and juice containers are actually made of multiple materials. If your recycling center requires you to separate materials, don’t put these items with your cardboard.
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Cardboard Recycling Alternatives
Getting more uses out of a product before it's recycled improves its carbon impact. Use these tips to extend your cardboard’s life.
- Offer your cardboard boxes on a site like Freecycle.org, a nonprofit site dedicated to “keeping good stuff out of landfills.”
- At work, implement a policy of saving boxes when requested by customers in need of them.
- Ask your friends running businesses out of their homes if they need boxes to ship their products.
- Use cardboard under your mulch to prevent weeds.
- Use cardboard in your compost pile.
- Call your elementary school to see if they require boxes for any upcoming projects.