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Did you know that cardboard is one of the few recyclable items that can be recycled over and over? What’s even more surprising however is the amount of cardboard that is in landfills despite all the waste paper and cardboard recycling options available.

In the US alone, 850 million tons of paper and cardboard are thrown away annually, which equates to approximately one billion trees. We know what you’re thinking. “Our office is practically paperless now and we use just a fraction of the paper we once used.”

We believe you! But while office productivity is up because people are spending less time clearing out paper jams in the copier these days, there’s another paper-based culprit contributing to business solid waste production.  

Even though the use of paper for communications in business is on the decline, the use of cardboard is at an all-time high. More than 80% of all products are packaged in cardboard. And it’s not just Americans who aren’t sure how to break down boxes for recycling. According to Environment Canada, only ¼ of Canada’s waste paper and cardboard is recycled.


Benefits of recycling cardboard for business

two men with medical masks moving open boxes

The bottom line on cardboard recycling really comes down to simply doing the right thing and playing your part to offset your business’ environmental impact. Recycling cardboard is a simple but impactful way to help the environment. Here are just a few of the fascinating statistics on cardboard recycling:

  • Recycling cardboard only takes 75% of the energy needed to make new cardboard
  • Corrugated cardboard can be recycled up to seven times
  • Most corrugated cardboard boxes are made of 75% recycled materials and can be transformed from recycled material to finished product in as little as 14 days
  • One tonne of recycled cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil, 4,000kW of electricity, 6.6 million BTUs of energy, 9 cubic yards of landfill space, 17 trees, and 7,000 gallons of water
  • Achieving an overall recycling level of approximately 75% has the same positive impact as removing roughly 55 million cars from the roads

How to reuse cardboard in your business

Reusing is a close friend of recycling and any opportunity to extend the lifespan of packaging is a great way to keep cardboard out of the landfill. Empty boxes, especially those paper ream boxes with lids, are great for document storage. Cardboard boxes also come in handy for packing. At any given moment, someone in the office will probably know someone moving soon who will gladly snap up a few free packing boxes. 


Prefer to leave the reuse/recycling process to the experts? No worries. Partnering with a commercial recycling collection company is another simple way to ensure your waste paper and cardboard is conveniently collected and taken to a recycling facility where it will be processed and reused again and again. 

Properly broken down cardboard for recycling.

How to properly break down cardboard for recycling

A pile of cardboard boxes stacked on top of each other.

Committing to recycling cardboard is the all-important first step. But recycling the right way ensures you are managing your cardboard waste efficiently and not unduly impacting your bottom line.  

Breaking down cardboard waste helps reduce recurring waste and recycling costs for your business. As you can imagine, bulky cardboard takes up much more space than smaller, compact pieces.  Wasted space means waste collection trucks are not able to collect as much recycling on each trip. And more frequent bin collection because bins are filling too quickly with bulky, disorganized cardboard can incur higher waste collection expenses for your business over time. 


Here are some simple steps to effectively break down cardboard waste before placing it in your recycling bin:

  1. Place the box upside down on the ground and carefully run a box cutter along the bottom centre seam through the packing tape or seal 
  2. Repeat this along any other taped seams until you can pull all four flaps straight up
  3. Push lightly on the box and twist it until the box collapses flat

Breaking down cardboard properly is a simple way to help manage your business’ cardboard recycling.

Will my waste disposal company pick up cardboard boxes?

It is the same story whether we’re talking about residential or commercial waste management. Different types of waste are collected and processed separately. Waste that cannot be recycled typically goes to the landfill, whereas recyclables go to a recycling facility for further processing.

Homeowners often ask: Can cardboard go in yard waste? Yard waste, like leaves, wood or grass clippings, is typically processed to make compost, so no, there’s no room in your green bin or compostable bags for cardboard. Really the only place your cardboard should be going is the recycling bin. 

If you own or run a business, you’re likely aware that there is a lot of cardboard waste generated by day-to-day operations. Office supplies from staplers to new computer monitors all come packed in boxes. Heck, even the staff party brings with it pizza boxes for recycling! 

Ensuring there are designated bins for recycling cardboard is one very important way you can do your part to reduce your environmental impact.

Want to know how a waste audit of your business could improve your bottom line?

Contact Local Environmental about recycling options for your business, including bin rental, waste management contracts, and waste audits.

Our Commercial Waste Management Services