is Considered Cardboard?
"cardboard" is a strong, versatile packaging material
that is universally accepted for recovery and recycling.
Corrugated packaging material is generally referred to by the
general public as “cardboard” and by the industry as Old
Corrugated Cardboard (OCC). The term “OCC” is used in this
is made from two strips of flat cardboard on the top and bottom,
and a wavy “corrugated” or fluted strip running through the
center. It is most commonly found in boxes used for packaging
and shipping items.
(flat, pressed, stiff paper used in cereal boxes, for
example)--also often called cardboard by the general
public--does not have flutes, is of a lower quality paper, and
is often coated. Paperboard, by definition, is not OCC ....
of common OCC include cases or ream boxes (cardboard shipping
containers for reams of copy paper, products, stationery,
supplies, equipment, or publications) and are roughly
10”Hx10”Wx12”L. Some OCC boxes have matching lids, while
others have flaps that are sealed shut. Gaylords are larger,
heavy-duty shipping container versions of these boxes, often
with lids and on pallets. OCC
comes in other sizes and shapes depending on their requirements,
including non-box form, for packing, cushioning or other uses.
of all products in the U.S. are shipped in corrugated
is the largest single constituent of municipal solid waste
all corrugated is recovered for recycling—the largest
source of waste paper collected for recycling.
is often made of recycled content and almost always made
of post-consumer material.
packaging allows significant source reduction by
eliminating the need for overwraps and secondary
packaging. It also can be engineered for increased
strength using less raw materials, a process called “lightweighting”.
is more environmentally friendly than ever, able to accept
non-toxic water-based inks and also to be processed
it’s recycled, paper (including OCC) is used to make
chipboard, paperboard (i.e., cereal boxes), paper towels,
tissues, and printing and writing paper.
chemicals have been virtually eliminated from the
manufacture of OCC; the use of heavy metals has been
dramatically reduced; over 97% of inks on boxes are now
water-based and non-toxic; and virtually all box plant
trimmings (waste from manufacturing) are recycled.
materials used to make OCC—lumber industry byproducts
such as sawdust and wood chips—are renewable resources.
the pulp from trees for use in corrugated cardboard
creates sulfur dioxide pollution. Recycling corrugated
cardboard into new products cuts the pollution generated
cardboard manufactured from recycled pulp uses about 75%
of the energy used in the manufacture of corrugated
cardboard made from virgin pulp.
packaging is a $17 billion per-year industry—the largest
segment of the entire packaging industry.
Cardboard Recycling Key Terms
The best contacts and resources to help you
get it done
The word linerboard
refers to a paper product that is produced from recycled
paper fibers and new pulp. Linerboard is essential in the
We recommend: Longview
Fibre Paper and Packaging has information on linerboard,
how it is used during the recycling process and in other
OCC, or old
corrugated cardboard, refers to used pieces or boxes of
corrugated packaging materials. These materials are used
during the recycling of cardboard to create new products.
We recommend: Check
Recycle Guy for OCC facts and information about
non-recyclable old corrugated cardboard.
A compactor is a
piece of recycling equipment that is similar to a baler. It
is used to crush cardboard and OCC prior to the recycling
process. Cardboard-recycling plants also use compactors to
crush OCC as the first part of the recycling process.
We recommend: Chicago-compactors.com
provides a diagram and description of a stainless steel
Pulp is an important
word in the process of cardboard recycling. Pulp is the
material that is created from old materials in order to make
new materials. There are different types of pulp depending
on the type of paper or cardboard material that is being
We recommend: For
information on all types of pulp visit the
American Forest & Paper Association.
A baler is a machine
that's used to crush large pieces and boxes of cardboard.
This process conserves space and gets the cardboard ready
for the recycling process. It is a cost-effective tool for
many types of business owners.
We recommend: Harmony
Enterprises offers information on cardboard recycling
and the use of a baler.
ruin any recycling process. For cardboard recycling, the
most common contaminant is food or grease.
Science offers facts about contaminants in the
cardboard-recycling process, such as grease and food, and
what can be done to prevent them.