Cardboard Recycling

Cardboard is one of the largest, single components of municipal solid waste and is also the largest category of materials recycled every year, with the U.S. recovering almost 90% of it.

Recycling cardboard uses only 75% of the energy needed to make new cardboard and produces 50% less sulfur dioxide. Recycling one ton of cardboard saves about 46 gallons of oil, 390 kWh of electricity, 6.6 million BTUs of energy, 3 tons of trees, and 9 cubic yards of landfill space.

In fiscal year 2017, the Transfer Station recycled 604,340 pounds of cardboard, which means 302 tons of material was diverted from the solid waste stream, saving the town $22,308 in disposal fees.

cardboard recycling

In Massachusetts, all non-waxed and clean cardboard products are banned from being disposed of with solid waste, which is why recycling cardboard at the Weston Transfer Station is so easy. New signage displays show exactly where and what to place in the cardboard/mixed paper bin:

  • shipping boxes
  • cereal, cracker, pasta, shoe, etc. boxes (non-waxed, clean)
  • paper egg carton
  • six-pack carrier
  • paper towel and toilet paper tubes
  • paper bags (clean)
  • office paper and junk mail

Please cut or fold large boxes to 2’ x 4’, remove plastic liners and packing material before placing down the chute. Staples and tape are OK to leave. 

Cardboard Contamination

Food residues are the biggest culprit when it comes to contaminating a recycling load, which is why a good question to ask yourself before tossing cardboard down the chute is whether or not there are oil stains on the box. If the answer is yes, please toss the box in with the trash or tear out the stains from the box.

Another culprit in cardboard contamination is mixing waxed-coated boxes in with the cardboard and paperboard. Milk, juice, and/or soup containers that have a waxy coating should not be included with the cardboard/mixed-paper recycling. These can be thrown out with the trash. Plastic films and packaging materials should also be removed from the box before placing in with the recycling.

A New Life

What happens to cardboard/paperboard when it’s recycled? Paperboard and junk mail can find a new life as new paperboard or paper-backing to building materials. Cardboard can make new cardboard (or the corrugated middle section), paperboard, or even paper bags.