Cardboard Waste Management

What Is Cardboard?

The Definition

  1. pasteboard or stiff paper

Cardboard is typically found for uses such as boxes for storage and transportation. 

Additional Information

Cardboard is a generic term for heavy-duty paper-based products having greater thickness and superior durability or other specific mechanical attributes to paper; such as foldability, rigidity and impact resistance. The construction can range from a thick sheet known as paperboard to corrugated fiberboard which is made of multiple corrugated and flat layers.

Additional Information

Why Recycle Cardboard?
When cardboard breaks down in landfill it creates methane, a
major greenhouse gas with the global warming capacity 21
times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Cardboard is one of the easiest and most environmentally effective materials to recycle since the fibre
in cardboard has already been processed. Therefore making cardboard products from recycled
material, rather than virgin fibre, saves not only trees, but also large amounts of water (up to 99% less)
and energy (up to 50% less). Manufacturing from recycled material also produces up to 90% less byproducts
such as chemical wastes.
For these reasons, it is important to recycle your cardboard and whenever possible to buy paper and
cardboard products with recycled content. For each kilogram of
cardboard recycled, you save up to one kilogram of greenhouse


Most frequent questions and answers

Large quantities of cardboard are used in packaging so it’s
important to try to choose products with minimal overall
packaging. Re-use cardboard boxes where possible before
recycling. If you buy cardboard products, ask your supplier
for options that use recycled content, contain fewer
materials and/or can be returned for re-use.

Cardboard can be recycled along with paper and is remade into many different kinds of paper
products. Recycled cardboard can also be made into sound-proofing material, insulation and even
Every time paper is processed the individual fibres become weaker, limiting the number of times it can
be recycled – usually up to eight times. Paper that has been recycled as many times as the fibres will
allow is turned into compost and breaks down naturally.

Businesses in Massachusetts can work directly with their hauler to establish cardboard recycling services. Many haulers will collect paper and cardboard together, enabling you to maximize your recycling opportunities while minimizing the space you need for recycling. Please check with your hauler to confirm what types of paper should be collected together in your program.

Once picked up from the business or institution, this material is hauled to a facility where it is sorted and baled. The baled cardboard is then ready to be shipped to paper mills domestically and internationally for recycling into new paper products. There are local markets in Massachusetts, where the entire process takes place. Trucks deliver loads of old corrugated cardboard, the material is inspected, pulped, rolled into sheets, corrugated, glued into new sheets, and cut into shape ready for market.

It can take years if it is packed tightly in sheets with little surface area exposed to the elements, as in landfills. In a home garden, cardboard used as mulch – shredded and soaked with water – the cardboard can decompose rather quickly and be completely broken down by microorganisms within 3 months

How Cardboard Is Made

How It’s Recycled 

Supporting Documents

Supporting document created by Planet Ark Organisation on cardboard recycling

Supporting Documents

Supporting document from Planet Work on cardboard recycling

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