The percentage of corrugated cardboard sent for recycling has been dropping significantly. This appears to be a result of so many households doing more online shopping than ever and throwing the boxes into the trash. The pandemic has escalated this situation, but it was occurring even before. Environmental groups and factories that use recycled cardboard often urge consumers to keep that material in the manufacturing stream instead of sending it to the landfill.
Cardboard box manufacturers are pleased with the significant boost in demand. However, if these factories cannot buy enough recycled material, they must spend more on new paper made from wood pulp. That drives up costs for companies that ship products directly to consumers and for brick-and-mortar stores that must continually replenish their inventory.
Recycling cardboard saves a substantial amount of energy. Manufacturing new material uses 25 percent more energy than the recycling process does, according to the nonprofit organization Recycle Across America. This organization reports that about 80 percent of retail stores recycle their cardboard, but convincing individuals to do so has proved difficult. Considering that more than 90 percent of products in this country are shipped in corrugated cardboard, it is apparent why recycling the material is so important.
2. Consumer Confusion
Some consumers don't realize cardboard boxes can be recycled. They may believe that a lot of tape or big address labels are disqualifying. However, workers at the recycling center remove tape and labels. They would rather complete this task than see all of that cardboard go to waste.
Another problem is consumers wanting to participate in recycling but not following the instructions. Some materials received by recycling companies end up in landfills because they are too dirty to use. Those items can contaminate large loads of otherwise useful materials, resulting in the entire load having to be discarded.
With cardboard, a common example is the pizza box with grease and food residue. Smooth paperboard, like that used for the back of a legal pad, also can be made into corrugated boxes. However, takeout food containers present the same problem that pizza boxes do. Waxed material often is used for beverage containers. Even if these can be thoroughly cleaned, they cannot go to recycling.
Recycling cardboard preserves valuable materials that are in great demand by box manufacturers. The process saves energy and keeps costs lower for manufacturers, stores, and consumers. By following appropriate methods for recycling, all consumers can pitch in and contribute to this nationwide effort. For more information, contact cardboard recycling services.