How to take a more circular approach to cardboard recycling

18 October 2020By ellie Reuseabox

How to take a more circular approach to cardboard recycling

Recycling has traditionally been the most popular way for industry to dispose of their unwanted cardboard. But the process is linear in design and unsustainable. As we move towards a more circular economy, more and more companies are embracing cardboard box reuse alongside their current practises.


The Recycling Process

In recycling, used cardboard boxes are put into a baler and uniform squares of squashed cardboard are produced. These are collected and sent off for recycling. After processing, new cardboard boxes are produced. In return for their used cardboard, companies may receive a small rebate, depending on the current rate for waste cardboard. This has been the process for decades. Recycling is considered to be good for the environment. But can we do better?


The Problem with Recycling

Recycling is a useful way of processing our waste materials that can no longer be reused. It is preferable to sending waste to landfill and is certainly a sensible way of re-processing material that cannot be reused. However, does all packaging need to be recycled? In industry cardboard boxes are usually treated as single use items. Most often, equipment or raw materials are shipped into factories in brand new cardboard boxes. The products are unpacked, while the boxes are flattened, baled and sent off for recycling. But many of these boxes are in a near new condition. Most cardboard boxes are strong and durable, perfectly capable of being reused 2 or 3 times before they are ready to be recycled.

As we move towards a more circular economy, we must move away from practises that are unsustainable and this includes the use of single-use packaging. Just because cardboard can be recycled, it doesn’t mean this is the most suitable option. The process of recycling requires vast amounts of water, energy and produces CO2. Recycled cardboard boxes are also made from a percentage of virgin material, which means more trees must be felled. All to turn a cardboard box back into, another cardboard box.


A Circular Approach to Waste

In a circular economy, resources do not end up as waste as they are made to last several life times. Re-using, re-distributing and re-manufacturing are the preferred approaches in a circular economy. This puts the focus on durability and is less costly as products are made to last. We already know that cardboard can be reused, so we must change our habits and ensure that it is common practice for all businesses to engage in cardboard box reuse.


The Reuse Model at Reuseabox

At Reuseabox we help companies to get more from their cardboard waste. This isn’t just better for the environment, it’s also more efficient and cost effective. We set up Reuse Models with organisations who produce large volumes of unwanted or used cardboard boxes. We work alongside your waste contractors to help you segregate cardboard boxes at source that are suitable for reuse. In some cases we advise sending just a few sizes or types for reuse while the rest will continue to be baled as per your usual practice. This is a great way to start your Reuse Model and see how it works for you.


The Benefits of Setting up a Reuse Model

By diverting used cardboard boxes to reuse you will benefit from,

–          A fixed rebate, higher than the current waste rate.

–          Significant environmental benefits including a reduced carbon footprint.

–          Quarterly reporting and support.


To find out more or to get help setting up a Reuse Model in your company, contact us today on 0800 2465731.


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