Here Colpac answers some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on recycling. Paperboard referred to in these FAQs, is also known as cartonboard, cardboard, corrugated cardboard, and micro flute and can all be recycled.
Question: What are the benefits of cardboard recycling?
- Reduces the volume of waste sent to landfill. Cardboard is one of the most efficient materials to recycle. Every ton of recycled cardboard saves approx. 6.9m³ [9yd3] of landfill space. This equates to at least around 1.32 tonnes of carbon. Diverting waste from landfill also helps to prevent other negative impacts of landfill such as air and water pollution.
- Significantly reduces carbon emissions that would otherwise be produced from converting new trees into new sheets; unnecessarily cutting down trees to make products that can otherwise be made with recycled board
- Saves on valuable resources: 1 tonne of recycled cardboard can save up to 17 trees from being cut down and 7000 gallons of water.
- Yields fibres that can be made into new cardboard products. A recent study by Graz University estimates that fibre-based packaging material can be recycled at least 25 times.
- Saves energy use and energy costs from creating new cardboard from wood.
Question: What are the guidelines for recycling cardboard, cartonboard, or paperboard in the UK
- In the UK we work to guidelines issued and defined by OPRL (On Pack Recycling Label) and the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI)
- For cardboard to be recyclable it needs to be able to be recycled in 75% of the waste facilities in that geographic area
- Following OPRL and CPI guidelines, cardboard, cartonboard, paperboard, corrugated cardboard, and micro flute can all be recycled if:
- They only have a coating/barrier on one side
- They have less than 15% plastic by weight (this is set to reduce, see below)
- They are free from food waste, or grease and are dry
- On pack recycling labels are binary
Question: Can cardboard have a plastic barrier or window and still be recycled?
- Yes, the current guidelines as of 2022 are: if the plastic content of the product is less than 15% and only on one side of the board (according to current OPRL guidelines).
- Double sided coating will make the cardboard non-recyclable.
- The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) suggests a target of no more than 5% of pack weight on single sided laminates/coatings but this is aspirational. OPRL has guideline levels mapped out.
Question: What are the current OPRL cardboard recycling guidelines and when will they change?