Commercial establishments typically generate white paper, mixed office paper, newspaper, and corrugated cardboard. This page focuses on corrugated cardboard because these establishments generate such large amounts. For information about recycling white paper, mixed office paper, and newspaper, review the information for schools and offices.
Commercial establishments generate a large portion of the estimated 31.4 million tons of corrugated cardboard discarded each year. The good news is 77 percent of those boxes were recycled in 2008, according to EPAs Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2008 Facts and Figures. Corrugated cardboard is one of the easiest materials to reduce at the source, reuse, and recycle. Corrugated recycling systems are relatively easy to establish: cardboard is easily identifiable, is often generated in large quantities, and has a ready market. Reducing corrugated cardboard waste is often the first step a company takes to reduce its waste.
- Have a system in place to collect recyclable cardboard before it becomes trash
- Break boxes down flat to conserve space in recycling containers
- Be sure to remove all strapping, polystyrene, plastic, and other contaminants before recycling and if you generate large quantities consider baling your cardboard
- Secure a clean, dry place to collect cardboard because wet cardboard is often rejected at a recycling facility
Because corrugated cardboard is so bulky, recycling it can save significant waste disposal costs. Use the following resources to help you set up a cardboard recycling program:
- Learn how to set up a corrugated recycling program from the Corrugated Packaging Alliance
- Make the most of your baling if you are baling cardboard and collecting other materials like plastic film, consider sandwich baling
- Find useful information for estimating the amount of cardboard your business generates, information about balers, and case studies from the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistances Corrugated Cardboard Waste Reduction Fact Sheet