How to Recycle Cardboard
Corrugated cardboard is the highest value grade of paper, as its durability means long paper fibers. This also helps explain why it has the highest recycling rate of paper products: 92.9 percent in 2015.
Cardboard Recycling Preparation
Since most cardboard is used for shipping, you’ll want to remove any shipping materials such as packing peanuts, plastic bags and bubble wrap. Check out our recycling guides for these materials to learn how to recycle them.
Use a knife or scissors to cut any tape used to seal the top and/or bottom of the box, then collapse the box. You don’t need to remove the tape, but most recyclers prefer that boxes are flattened to save space.
For boxes that contained huge items, you may need to fold or cut the flattened box in half for it to fit in your recycling cart. Some programs also allow you to set large boxes next to the cart, but don’t put them out if it’s raining. Wet cardboard doesn’t have a recycling market.
For boxes that are food-soiled (such as pizza boxes), cut out any oil stains before recycling. Food-soiled paper doesn’t have a recycling market.
Find a drop-off location for cardboard near you using our Recycling Locator.
Why Recycle Cardboard
Over half of the cardboard collected is used to make new cardboard boxes, and additional cardboard can be downcycled into paperboard (used for cereal boxes) or chipboard (used for shoeboxes)
Making 1 ton of virgin cardboard requires 3 tons of trees
Recycling 1 ton of cardboard eliminates 9 cubic yards of landfill space
Frequent Cardboard Recycling Questions
- Corrugated Cardboard Proves It Can Hang Ten, Shred Serious Powder: A packaging company has made functional surfboards from old cardboard
- Samsung Creates a Cardboard Printer: Samsung has developed a printer made from recycled corrugated cardboard instead of plastic
- Top 16 Most-Searched-For Materials for Recycling: Cardboard is always one of the most searched materials in Earth911’s recycling directory, but what else makes the list?