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Cardboard is predominantly used in packaging – from coffee cups to cereal boxes – but it’s also used in various other industries. It’s the third most widely used material in the world and you can probably find cardboard in every home or business place in the country. Getting rid of cardboard waste must be done safely.

At Divert we provide cardboard collection and recycling services for businesses of any size and industry. This page provides a guide covering what cardboard is and how to get rid of cardboard from your home or company responsibly.

A Guide to Cardboard Waste

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What is cardboard made out of?

Cardboard is a form of paper but is much more durable and designed for heavy-duty use. It’s a specially engineered material made out of paper pulp from wood timber. However, its origins mean that it’s manufactured similarly to paper. This means it’s a sustainable resource as more trees can be planted to create new cardboard.

How is cardboard made?

The process of making cardboard is relatively straightforward. Cardboard is made by pressing together a series of moist fibres (wood pulp) before they’re dried into thin sheets. The cardboard sheets are then layered on top of each other and attached with glue until they reach their desired thickness. Typically, cardboard has a thickness of 4.8mm.

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What type of waste is cardboard?

Cardboard is typically classified as recyclable waste. This is because the recycling process for cardboard is straightforward to carry out. Used cardboard sheets, boxes, or packaging can be recycled into new cardboard products.

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Who invented cardboard? 

Records suggest that cardboard was first invented in the 15th century in China. However, cardboard boxes and other products weren’t produced commercially in the UK until the early 1800s. Initially, cardboard had various other uses aside from packaging. For example, it was once used to line hats and shoes, providing them with additional structure (and sometimes height).

How much cardboard is used each year?

A recent study found that we use around 12.5 million tonnes of both paper and cardboard in the UK each year. This is usually in the form of packaging waste. It’s estimated that the average UK household will throw away approximately 13,000 cardboard products each year.

How much cardboard is in landfill?

According to a recent report from the UOCB Environmental Centre, around 17,000 tonnes of cardboard are sent to landfill sites each year.

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Cardboard Disposal 

How to get rid of cardboard

Getting rid of cardboard is relatively easy. Normally, you can recycle cardboard alongside the rest of your dry mixed recycling at home or work, such as paper and plastic products. If you produce large volumes of cardboard waste, you may wish to store it separately. To dispose of cardboard waste as a business, you should:

  • Store all cardboard waste in a cool, dry space where it cannot be cross-contaminated.
  • Use the appropriate bins and containers. For example, cardboard can be stored in wheelie bins or recycling balers and compactors.
  • Arrange for your waste to be collected and recycled by a licensed waste carrier, such as Divert.

How is cardboard recycled?

Cardboard waste is taken to a recycling facility, where it’s shredded into tiny pieces to make the bulky waste easier to manage. It’s then mixed with water and a series of chemicals to create a slurry. Eventually, this will form recycled pulp. In some cases, wood chips are added to strengthen the pulp.

The pulp is then filtered, eliminating contaminants such as ink or tape from the mixture. Finally, it’s dried and pressed into sheets. These sheets can then be used to make new cardboard.

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What are some eco-friendly alternatives to cardboard?

Since it can be recycled multiple times over, cardboard is a rather sustainable and eco-friendly choice for many businesses. However, there are alternative products that can also be used for packaging purposes, such as:

  • Biodegradable packaging peanuts
  • Organic fabrics
  • Recycled plastics/paper/card

Facts about cardboard recycling

These are a few facts about cardboard waste:

  • Once the recycling process begins, the new cardboard products can be back on shelves again in as little as two weeks.
  • There are many benefits to recycling cardboard. For example, it helps slow down deforestation rates by reducing the demand for wood.
  • Recycling cardboard cuts down on all materials needed for production, saving both water and energy. Furthermore, it decreases the strain we place on landfill sites.
  • Cardboard has the highest recycling rate of all paper-based products.

What are the costs associated with recycling and disposing of cardboard?

From an environmental perspective, there’s no good reason why you shouldn’t recycle cardboard. For example, recycling just one tonne of cardboard frees upwards of nine yards of landfill space, which is already limited. As a result, businesses should spend a little more money to ensure their waste is recycled when possible.

At Divert, we ensure the entire process is as cost-effective as possible for our clients. We’ll provide you with a free quote for all of your collection and disposal needs, alongside free bins to store your cardboard in before collection. We can also advise on reducing cardboard waste, saving you a great deal of money.

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Can you reuse cardboard rather than throwing it away?

Thankfully, as cardboard products are so versatile, you have plenty of opportunities to reuse them instead of throwing them away. For example, cardboard boxes or packaging can be used for storage or arts and crafts projects. Furthermore, cardboard can also be used for furniture upcycling projects. Alternatively, shredded cardboard can be added to your compost heap.

cardboard packaging squashed together.

Where can I recycle cardboard for free?

There are various places where you can recycle cardboard for free. You can put domestic cardboard in your household recycling bin. If you have a high volume you could take it to your local household waste recycling centre (HWRC) to drop it off to be recycled. Some local supermarkets and council car parks have bins to recycle cardboard too.

Where can I recycle cardboard?

At Divert, we provide collections of waste cardboard from businesses across Yorkshire. You can recycle cardboard from your company in the following towns, cities, and their surrounding regions:

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