Fact Sheet: Reducing Corrugated Cardboard Waste

Office of Waste Reduction Services
State of Michigan
Departments of Commerce and Natural Resources

December 1989

Old corrugated cardboard (OCC) is one of the most commonly found materials in commercial and industrial waste streams. It is also one of the easiest materials to reduce at the source, reuse and recycle. OCC collection systems are relatively simple to set up. OCC is readily identifiable, is often available in large pieces and has a ready market. Indeed, reducing OCC waste is often a company's first waste reduction program.

Reducing Cardboard Waste Can Save You Money

Because cardboard is so bulky, its removal from the waste stream can dramatically reduce waste collection, hauling and disposal costs. Eliminating cardboard will enable you to reduce the number of waste dumpsters, the size of the waste dumpsters and/or the number of pickups needed. If you pay by volume or pickup, this will save you money.

Some Cardboard Facts

Types of Cardboard Which Can Be Recycled

The term "cardboard" is used by paper and paper recycling businesses to mean the corrugated container board used mostly for packing and storage boxes. The term excludes paper-board, which is commonly used in cereal boxes, shoe boxes and backing for legal pads. Both cardboard and paperboard can be recycled. Paper board, however, has a very limited recycling market at this time.

Figure [(see source document)]

Contaminants To Avoid

Most cardboard buyers restrict the levels of allowable contamination and will pay substantially less for contaminated loads of cardboard. Contaminants are items which interfere with the remanufacturing process and must be pulled out of the cardboard by the generator, the hauler, the broker or the mill. These items include:

Reducing OCC At The Source

There are a number of approaches your firm can take to reduce the amount of cardboard generated in the first place.

Reusing Cardboard

Many businesses recognize the reuse value of cardboard boxes and keep them in circulation in a number of ways:

Recycling Cardboard

Recycling cardboard is commonly the first serious waste reduction program implemented by many businesses. Cardboard recycling may be implemented in the office, the mail room, the inventory room, the shipping/receiving area and kitchens, as well as the manufacturing area.

ConditionTruck Alternatives
Flattened and strapped to palletsSemi-trailer
Flattened and stacked looseFlatbed or Box truck
Compactor truck
Placed loose or compacted in dumpsterCompactor truck
Placed loose or compacted in roll-offRoll-off truck
BaledFlatbed or Box truck

Figure [(see source document)]

Developed by:
Resource Recycling Systems, Inc.

Funded by:
The Clean Michigan Fund
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

For more information on the subject of waste reduction for businesses, contact

The Office of Waste Reduction Services
P.O. Box 30004
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 335-1178

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Last Updated: November 10, 1995