How to Recycle Cardboard the Right Way

Donate old goods instead of throwing away.

Cardboard boxes can be recycled, and you should use this as an opportunity to reduce the amount of waste in your community. However, when it comes to cardboard recycling, there are different kinds of boxes that need to be treated differently. Here’s how to recycle cardboard the right way, so you can help the environment in a meaningful way!

Items that Can’t Be Recycled

As you know, cardboard is a common material used for packaging. It’s also recyclable – but only if it’s clean and dry. So, what can’t be recycled? 

Broken down cardboard
All cardboard boxes should be broken down before being dropped off for recycling.

Some materials are simply not accepted by many recycling centers due to contamination or other issues. Other materials just don’t work well with cardboard because they degrade its quality when processed at a center. Common items that can’t be recycled include: paper cups and plates; clear plastic bags; waxed food wrap; foam packing materials; milk jugs or bottles; newspapers or magazines with food waste on them (they need to be thoroughly rinsed); and clothing, shoes or padding in boxes (remove these first).

Accepted Items

Cardboard can be recycled into new cardboard products, like cereal boxes and egg cartons. To recycle your cardboard, you first need to prepare it. Remove any tape or labels from the cardboard, and cut it into smaller pieces if necessary. If you have more than one piece of cardboard, make sure they’re flattened before putting them in your recycling bin. The flatter your cardboard is, the easier it will be for it to go through the sorting machine.

Preparation of the Item Accepted

Before recycling your cardboard, you’ll want to make sure it’s clean and dry. Remove any tape or labels, and break down any boxes so they lay flat. If the cardboard is greasy or food-stained, it’s best to throw it away in the trash. Once your cardboard is ready for recycling, you can either put it out with your curbside recycling or take it to a local recycling center.

Accessibility Toolbar