Why Recycle Cardboard?
Cardboard is basically made up of a collection of brown paper which is stuck together to form hard walls, and is used as packaging for almost anything, but most commonly for protecting products whilst in transit. After transportation, cardboard packaging is generally disposed of, which is why it needs to be recycled.
The Recycling Process in Action
Once waste cardboard packaging reaches a recycling facility it has to be sorted. This is done based on the type of cardboard, with the two popular types being boxboard and corrugated board. Identifying these two types of boxes is relatively straightforward, boxboard boxes are normally small in size and non-coated, examples might include food packaging such as cereal boxes. Corrugated boxes are usually larger and often used as containers for boxboard boxes. For instance, a corrugated box would be used to store a collection of cereal boxes. Corrugated boxes are coated to provide additional protection.
After sorting the loose cardboard is baled, making it easier to handle and more economical to transport.
Because cardboard packaging and boxes are made of paper, which itself is made from plant-based fibres, it is possible for it to be turned into pulp, in a process which involves soaking it water. Some processes may also use chemicals to hasten the pulping process.
The pulp that comes out is then mixed with fresh pulp, which contains raw materials such as wood chips to make new paper. Recycled pulp is used on its own but produces paper of a lower quality with limited applications and appeal.
Filtering and De-Inking
Because the pulp is a mix of recycled and fresh paper materials, there will be some foreign objects in the mixture, such as glue and tape. These are removed by using filters, and any colour contained in the pulp is also removed using a floatation device which uses de-colorization chemicals.
Once the pulp is ready to be given its desired shape it must be dried. Drying take s place on a conveyor or table, whilst drying is in progress the pulp is also passed through a machine that extracts any excess water. The finished flat board is referred to as linerboard and is ready to be used to create fresh boxes and other products.