Recycling cardboard

Cardboard, also referred to as corrugated cardboard, is a readily recyclable material with well established local markets for processing and manufacturing. Waxed, wet, and soiled cardboard is not recyclable but can be composted at commercial composting operations.

Why should you recycle cardboard?

In Massachusetts, all cardboard, paper, and non-waxed cardboard products are banned from disposal by the Massachusetts Waste Bans. According to the MassDEP, cardboard in commercial loads of trash is one of the most common causes of a “failed load.”

In today’s economy, businesses and institutions recycle items like cardboard because it saves them money on waste disposal costs. Recycling is also good for the planet and your local community because it helps conserve valuable resources, reduces pollution from production of new materials, and creates jobs. Some large generators of cardboard can bale it or compact it and market it directly to recyclers and receive revenue for this material.

To help businesses comply with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) Waste Ban for cardboard and other materials, RecyclingWorks developed the following sector-specific tip sheets, available in both English and Spanish. Tip sheets for additional business sectors will be posted below as they are available.

PDFWaste Ban Compliance Tips for Retailers [English] [Español]

PDFWaste Ban Compliance Tips for Restaurants [English] [Español]

PDFWaste Ban Compliance Tips for Colleges & Universities [English] [Español]

PDFWaste Ban Compliance Tips for Food Manufacturers & Distributors [English] [Español]

How does it get recycled?

Businesses in Massachusetts can work directly with their hauler to establish cardboard recycling services. Many haulers will collect paper and cardboard together, enabling you to maximize your recycling opportunities while minimizing the space you need for recycling. Please check with your hauler to confirm what types of paper should be collected together in your program.

Once picked up from the business or institution, this material is hauled to a facility where it is sorted and baled. The baled cardboard is then ready to be shipped to paper mills domestically and internationally for recycling into new paper products. There are local markets in Massachusetts, where the entire process takes place. Trucks deliver loads of old corrugated cardboard, the material is inspected, pulped, rolled into sheets, corrugated, glued into new sheets, and cut into shape ready for market.

What happens after it is recycled?

Recycled cardboard is a high quality material that can be used as packaging materials and boxes. Cardboard can be recycled many times without losing its strength. Corrugated cardboard containers that get used for shipping have a high percentage of post consumer recycled content.

Cardboard recycling case study

PDFWyman’s Liquor Store Case History:  Learn how Wyman’s Liquors in Leominster saved $7,000 annually by recycling their cardboard.

Learn about recycling other materials

For more information on other commonly recycled materials visit these pages:

Additional Resources: