Beyond the Bin: The Lifecycle of Cardboard Recycling

October 5, 2023

the commercial cardboard recycling process at FV recycling

In a world that faces increasing environmental challenges head-on, the recycling of OCC (Old Corrugated Containers) provides hope for a more sustainable future. Think of it as literally turning trash into treasure. The revival of materials like recycled OCC helps lessen the burden on our natural resources.

Let’s look a little closer at these recyclable materials and their journey through the recycling process as well as the new purpose old cardboard serves on the other side.

The Role of OCC in Modern Packaging

Old Corrugated Containers (OCC), the unsung heroes of packaging—like boxes, containers and packaging—are more commonly recognized as cardboard. Made up of corrugated paperboard, OCC stands as a robust and versatile material designed for the rigors of packaging and shipping. It’s characteristic strength and durability make it a staple in the world of commerce.

Because it is so utilized, the paper waste is also often discarded. OCC emerges from households, where packages are unwrapped with anticipation; businesses, where products are carefully shipped to waiting customers; and industries immersed in packaging and shipping. These sources collectively contribute to the abundance of OCC waste, and this waste can either become a resource or add to the environmental challenge.

The untreated disposal of OCC is a catalyst for overflowing landfills, a silent contributor to deforestation, and a perpetrator of heightened carbon emissions. In its unrecycled state, OCC exacerbates the global waste crisis. On the flip side, embracing OCC recycling transforms this potential environmental culprit into a powerful ally in the fight against global waste. At FV Recycling, we are here to help you do just that.

Recycling Bin to Sorting OCC

At FV Recycling, our commitment to sustainability begins with the comprehensive recycling of virtually all grades and types of cardboard. This includes pre- and post-consumer boxes, cardboard bales, and loose cardboard.

Once collected from manufacturers, retailers, grocers, distribution centers and general businesses, OCC makes its way to FV’s state-of-the-art recycling facilities.

At this point, the sorting stage takes center stage. Utilizing advanced machinery and manual labor, we separate cardboard from other materials, such as plastic or paper, ensuring that only pure OCC enters the recycling process. This sets the stage for a streamlined recycling process, maximizing resource efficiency.

Purifying and Pulping in Cardboard Recycling

Following the sorting process, the next phase in the OCC recycling journey is to paper mills for cleaning. This step ensures that the cardboard is free from contaminants, preparing it for the transformative journey into recycled material.

In the cleaning stage, the OCC undergoes a methodical cleansing process, where contaminants such as tape, labels, or adhesives are efficiently removed. Good ole H2O is then used to ensure that the recycled material maintains the purity required for sustainable processing.

If needed, the pulp might undergo a de-inking and bleaching process, especially if the cardboard is intended for the manufacture of new paper products. De-inking eliminates any ink or printing, and the bleaching step gives a pristine white quality to the pulp.

Once cleansed, the cardboard is shredded into small pieces, giving rise to what is referred to as “cardboard pulp.” This process is not just about breaking down the OCC; it’s about creating a versatile material that will become the building block for the next steps in the recycling process.

Recycle Cardboard for New Life

This recycled OCC plays a pivotal role in the creation of a closed-loop system, where cardboard enjoys a second life, contributing to a sustainable and circular economy. Here are some of the ways you see it, the second, or the third time around.

  • Corrugated Boxes: Recycled OCC forms the basis for the creation of new corrugated boxes. These cardboard boxes, used for packaging and shipping, retain the strength and durability of their virgin counterparts but with the added environmental benefit of utilizing recycled materials.
  • Packaging Materials: These materials include padding, dividers, and cushioning inserts used to protect fragile items during transit.
  • Paper Products: Recycled OCC is a key ingredient in the manufacture of various paper products. This encompasses a wide range, from newspapers and magazines to notebooks and stationery.
  • Cardboard Furniture: Who knew? Innovative designers and manufacturers are increasingly utilizing recycled OCC to create environmentally friendly furniture. Cardboard furniture is known for its lightness, affordability, and of course, its recyclability.
  • Insulation and Building Materials: These materials benefit from the thermal properties of cardboard pulp. Corrugated cardboard has been employed in diverse building applications, from corrugated panels on walls and ceilings, to recycled roofing panels.
  • By incorporating recycled content, insulation materials contribute to energy efficiency in buildings while diverting waste from landfills.
  • Art and Craft Supplies: Craft papers, cardboard sheets, and other art supplies made from recycled OCC provide artists and creators with eco-friendly options.

The Role of OCC Recycling in a Sustainable Future

The role of OCC recyclables in forging a sustainable future encompasses resource conservation, energy savings, and economic and social impact.

OCC recycling plays a pivotal role in reducing the demand for virgin fibers, thus easing the strain on the environment. Opting for recycled materials actively contributes to the preservation of vital ecosystems and biodiversity. In terms of energy efficiency, recycling OCC requires less energy compared to the production of paper from virgin fibers, resulting in a substantial reduction in carbon emissions.

Additionally, the use of recycled fibers in the manufacturing process minimizes the environmental impact associated with logging, transportation, and the processing of raw materials. Furthermore, it engages communities, promoting participation and raising awareness about the positive impacts of responsible waste management.

Connect with FV Recycling

At FV Recycling, we are committed to turning cardboard disposal into a valuable resource for a greener tomorrow. We serve the Southeast and have brokerage capabilities throughout the United States. If you’re a business looking to recycle cardboard, paper, plastic or aluminum, visit our website to explore the comprehensive range of recycling services we offer.

Whether you have specific questions about our recycling processes, want to discuss your business’s recycling needs, or are ready to initiate a recycling program, our experts are here to assist you with a proper disposal. Request a quote through our website or by contacting our team. We’ll provide you with a tailored quote based on the volume and type of waste your business generates. FV Recycling understands that every business is unique. We offer solutions to meet the specific needs of your industry and operations.