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The Cardboard Recycling Process: How It Works

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Cardboard is one of the most widely used packing materials globally. Cardboard boxes are handy and efficient for shipping products or storing household items. However, disposing of them can lead to environmental degradation. Recycling cardboard has many benefits, including reducing waste, conserving natural resources, and reducing air pollution. In this post, we will discuss the cardboard recycling process, step by step, to help you understand the importance of recycling and how you can take part in reducing cardboard waste. 


The first step is collecting the cardboard. Collection can occur through curbside recycling bins, recycling centers, or commercial recycling companies. These collection centers transport and sell the cardboard to recycling plants. Make sure to break down the boxes and remove any non-cardboard materials, such as packing peanuts or plastic wrapping.


Once the cardboard reaches the recycling plant, it is sorted based on the type of cardboard. For instance, corrugated cardboard, used for boxes and packaging, is separated from paperboard, which is used for cereal boxes and cartons. Sorting also helps to detect any contaminants, such as plastic or metal.


After sorting, the cardboard passes through cutting blades that shred it into small pieces. Breaking the cardboard into smaller pieces allows it to absorb water and quickly become saturated.


The pulping process involves adding water and chemicals to the small pieces of cardboard. The solution breaks down the cardboard pieces to create a thick liquid called pulp. The mixture then passes through a screen, separating any remaining contaminants and reducing the cardboard to a mush-like substance.


The pulp undergoes a process of cleaning and refining to remove ink, contaminants, and any residual glue or other materials that were not removed in the shredding process. This step ensures that the finished product is of high quality and free of impurities.

Filtering and Drying

The pulp is then cleaned and filtered to remove any remaining impurities. It is then spread out on a conveyor to dry. Once the pulp is dry, it can be used to create new cardboard or paper products.


The final step is using the recycled pulp to create new products. The pulp is often used to make cardboard boxes and paper products, such as newspapers and magazines. These products can then return to the recycling process, reducing waste and increasing sustainability.

Recycling cardboard is critical in reducing waste, preserving natural resources, and protecting the environment. The cardboard recycling process allows us to help create a more sustainable future. 

Contact a professional to learn more about cardboard recycling