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What is OCC Recycling and Why is it Important?

What is OCC Recycling and Why is it Important?

Nearly everyone knows that recycling is the way of the future. This holds true of everything from plastics to corrugated cardboard. While most people instinctively understand the importance of recycling plastics to make new products, many do not fully understand the impact recycling corrugated cardboard can have on the planet.  

What is Corrugated Cardboard?

Corrugated cardboard is used primarily as a packaging material and can hold anything from that new TV you just purchased to produce and goods in the grocery store. It consists of a wavy or fluted layer sandwiched between two layers of paper; this creates a durable and lightweight packaging material that is easy to handle. Post-use cardboard is referred to as old corrugated cardboard (OCC). When recycled, it can be used to make new corrugated cardboard boxes and containers, as well as boxboard materials, such as cereal boxes and packaging for a variety of products. Approximately 85 percent of the products sold in the United States are packaged in cardboard.

Why Recycle Corrugated Cardboard?

Recycling corrugated cardboard provides a host of benefits. Some of the most common are:

  • Reduces energy and water use. Recycling one ton of paper or cardboard saves 380 gallons of oil, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water.
  • Cuts the production of greenhouses gases and pollutants, while also improving air quality. The amount of trees required to produce one ton of cardboard absorbs 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning the same amount of cardboard would add 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide to the air.

When recycled, it can be used to make new corrugated cardboard boxes and containers, as well as boxboard materials, such as cereal boxes and packaging for a variety of products. Approximately 85 percent of the products sold in the United States are packaged in cardboard.

  • Reduces the demand for virgin timber. It is estimated that it takes three tons of virgin timber, or approximately 17 trees, to produce one ton of cardboard.
  • Saves landfill space. One ton of cardboard takes up nine cubic yards of landfill space. 

How is Corrugated Cardboard Recycled?

OCC must first be broken down and sorted to remove contaminants, such as plastic and labels. It is then compressed and transported to a paper mill where it is processed to make new paper or cardboard products, such as recycled paperboard and the fluting for corrugated cardboard boxes.

How do you Prepare Corrugated Cardboard for Recycling?

Consumers must remove all contaminants, such as plastic labels or other non-paper materials from the boxes. They should also be broken down, so the cardboard lies flat. The cardboard should be stored in a dry area where haulers can pick it up and take it to the recycle center. In some communities, consumers must transport the cardboard to a recycling center, while some provide pickup. Check with your local recycling center to determine the process in your community.

We provide a host of services to meet your needs. If you are a business that produces bundles of OCC and needs help getting your materials to the market, we can help you. We provide transportation and on-the-ground bale services. To find out how we can best meet your needs, contact us at Central Kentucky Fiber Resources, LLC today.

Want your company to start recycling? Contact us