Waste Connections of Tennessee

Providing residential garbage removal, commercial garbage collection, and Tennessee Recycling Programs

Customer Service — 865-522-8161
Front Load & Roll-Off Dispatch — 865-522-0367

Recycling Cardboard

To keep useful materials out of the landfill, Waste Connections in Knoxville encourages customers to flatten and recycle cardboard boxes unless it has been contaminated.

In the United States, we use a lot of paper products. In fact, 27 percent of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generated in the United States in 2014 was composed of paper products, including corrugated cardboard according to the U.S. EPA.

 Municipal Solid Waste Generated

Today, more than ever, people are shopping online which creates more packaging materials that consumers need to recycle or discard. According to comScore, retail digital commerce in the US reached $103.1 billion in the 2nd Quarter of 2017, which was up 18% over 2016.

Cardboard Recycling Facts – Source: Source: Recycle Across America

  • Recycling cardboard only takes 75% of the energy needed to make new cardboard.
  • Recycling 1 ton of cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil.
  • Over 90% of all products shipped in the US are shipped in corrugated boxes, which totals more than 400 billion square feet of cardboard.
  • Nearly 80% of all retailers and grocers recycle their cardboard.

What Happens to Recycled Corrugated Cardboard?

In the industry, used cardboard is referred to as Old Corrugated Cardboard or OCC. The Corrugated Packaging Alliance reports:

Corrugated, made from a natural renewable resource, has a great environmental record. Corrugated is almost always manufactured using high percentages of recovered fiber (including old corrugated containers, Kraft, old newspapers and mixed paper), thereby diverting these materials from the municipal solid waste stream. In 2015, 92.9 percent of all containerboard produced was recovered and recycled in the U.S. Corrugated has the best recycling rate of any packaging material used today. And that's what happens after the corrugated box has been used and reused time and time again to store and move items around the home, store and office. 

Where does Old Corrugated Cardboard Go?

Source: The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) is a corrugated industry initiative, jointly sponsored by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), The Independent Packaging Association (AICC), Fibre Box Association (FBA), and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI).

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

In 2014, of the 258 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generated in the United States, this is where it ended.

MSW Management

  • 53% was landfilled
  • 35% was recycled and composted
  • 13% was burned for energy

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