By Kate Weintraub
The products we use every day would not be available to us without paperboard, a thinner form of paper-based packaging we commonly refer to as cardboard. Food and beverages we consume, cosmetics we use, medicines we rely on and shoes we purchase are all often packaged in paperboard boxes. But, with all of this packaging ending up in our hands, we don’t have to simply toss it in the trash. Rather, there is a prime opportunity to recycle – so that new products can be made!
Recycling paperboard is easy once you know how. A few simple tips can help you get started:
- Identify items in your house that are made of paperboard. Common paperboard packaging includes: cereal boxes, tissue boxes, cracker boxes, paper towel rolls, milk and juice cartons, makeup and cosmetic packaging, medicine packaging and toothpaste boxes.
- Determine if the paperboard package can be recycled: it should be clean and dry; wet and damaged material can contaminate other material in the bin and hinder the recycling process.
- Check with your local municipality for recycling rules and tips. All cardboard is recyclable, but separate rules may apply.
Once you place the eligible packaging in your recycling bin and your recyclables are picked up at the curb or dropped off at a recycling center, these materials go through a series of steps. Recyclables are transported to a local center where they are sorted multiple times to separate items by material and eliminate waste. Recyclable paperboard is shipped to a recycled paperboard mill where it is broken down into fibers, cleaned, screened, thickened, brightened and dried – a process known as pulping. Pulp is pressed to form paperboard, dried again and prepped for final usage. Once the recycled paperboard is ready, it will be sent to a converting facility where it is transformed into a new box, carton or other consumer or industrial product.
Now that you know the long journey paperboard goes through to be recycled, remember to do your part by simply getting the process started!