Leave a Small Carbon Footprint
Most products that are shipped to and from businesses are packaged in cardboard boxes. All told, that can be more than half its waste stream. Choosing to recycle your corrugated cardboard waste can reduce your company’s ecological footprint, which can, in turn, make a sizeable impact on the good of the environment. It’s a perfect place to start if you’re beginning any kind of sustainability effort.
What makes cardboard so special? Cardboard is made much the same as other paper – from tree pulp. It breaks down completely and can be easily stored, baled, and transported. Just one single semi-trailer can carry about 20 tons of OCC (old corrugated cardboard) – much easier than carrying a load of bulky scrap metal, plastics, or other products. Manufacturers, warehouses, and large box stores in particular produce very clean cardboard waste, with fibers that remain intact longer and thus make recycling a much easier process.
Take a look at these numbers regarding the environmental benefits of recycling just one ton of cardboard.
It helps prevent deforestation.
Cardboard is easy to recycle and can be reused as new paper products from five to seven times before the fibers become too short to use. One ton of recycled cardboard saves 17 trees. Imagine how many trees you’d be saving if you have just one trailer load of OCC per week.
It saves water.
The pulping process uses a lot of water to break down the bulk structure of the wood’s fiber source (bark, chips, stems, etc.) to make paper or cardboard. Recycling one ton of cardboard saves 7,000 gallons of water during the pulping process. That’s a savings of 58 percent.
It cuts down on CO2 emissions.
Remember those 17 trees saved through recycling? They absorb about 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. If they were burned instead, those same trees would emit 1,500 pounds of CO2 back into the environment.
It reduces greenhouse gases.
Manufacturing paper from virgin trees in a forest takes more energy than it does to manufacture paper from recycled products. Recycling cardboard could reduce energy consumption by 64 percent or almost 5,000 kWh per ton. That would effectively save 380 to 475 gallons of oil, which means you’re lowering consumption of fossil fuels and other energy sources that produce greenhouse gases. Ultimately, that’s 60 pounds less air pollution.
It saves landfill space.
Even though cardboard is biodegradable and recyclable, compared to organic material (leaves, food scraps, etc.) it takes much longer to break down. If a trailer load – 20 tons – of cardboard went into landfill, it would take decades to break down and would use up valuable real estate for real garbage (waste that can’t be recycled). In addition, when cardboard goes into landfills, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas, into the air as it begins to break down. Recycling one ton of cardboard saves about 3 cubic yards of landfill space – or 60 cubic yards for a trailer load.
Cardboard recycling benefits the environment many times over, but it also rewards companies that choose to implement a recycling program with cost savings. You can avoid paying high disposal costs charged to transport your OCC to a landfill. Instead, turn your cardboard waste into a valuable commodity: recycling rebates could generate additional revenue for green-thinking businesses. It’s pretty much a win-win – for the environment and for the businesses that recycle.
Does your company want to reduce waste by using sustainable packaging? Contact the industrial packaging experts at PPOIC.