Cardboard box

Tips for How to Properly Recycle Cardboard Boxes

We all love getting a package in the mail - but are we recycling our cardboard boxes and packing material inside correctly? Read on for tips on how to recycle right.

Ninety-six percent of Americans have made an online purchase, and 80% of us shop online each month! Much of our online shopping is made possible by the simple corrugated cardboard shipping box. We all love getting packages so let’s appreciate cardboard boxes by emptying, flattening them and placing them in our recycling bins so they can get a second life. Recycling cardboard boxes decreases solid waste disposal in landfills, provides new fiber to make new paper products, uses less raw material and energy, and creates jobs. Recycling is an important part of the circular economy, ensuring valuable materials are used again instead of ending up in the landfill where they have no value. In 2017, 8.1 billion dollars’ worth of recycled fiber was collected, sorted, and processed by the paper recycling industry creating jobs and supporting the economy.

How to Properly Recycle a Cardboard Box

Follow these steps when recycling cardboard boxes:

  • Remove all packing materials like packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and air pillows from the box. See that recycling symbol? These packing materials cannot be recycled in your home recycling program, but some can be recycled at separate drop off locations found at many retail stores. For a materials list and drop off locations visit: Plastic Film Recycling.
  • Keep it flat! Keep scissors by the door to cut through tape and collapse boxes flat. This helps make transportation and sorting more efficient for recycling. If there is any loose tape peel it off and dispose of it in the trash.
  • Keep it clean & dry! All cardboard that goes in your household recycling bin should be clean and dry- free of food, liquid, and other residues.
  • Feel good! Recycling right feels good! Step back and admire your empty, flat boxes and leave your wish-cycling guilt behind.

Resource: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, November 25, 2019

Contact

Theresa Mayhew
Resource Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences
tcm5@cornell.edu
(518) 828-3346 ext. 217

Last updated January 13, 2020