Cardboard and Chipboard


Cardboard and Chipboard

Cardboard boxes are known to recyclers as “old corrugated containers” or “OCC.” They are made from two brown linerboard facings with a fluted or corrugated paper layer between them. Other boxes, including cereal boxes, shoe boxes, and tissue boxes have a gray liner and are thinner than corrugated containers. These are known as chipboard or paperboard.

According to the American Forest and Paper Association (AFPA), over 90 percent of all products in the U.S. are shipped in corrugated boxes – the majority from the food and beverage industry. The Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC) estimates that the corrugated packaging industry produced nearly 400 billion square feet in shipments in 1996, valued at $21 billion. (See links under “web resources,” below.)

New boxes from old

More than most other paper products, cardboard is made from recycled fiber – especially from used cardboard and paper bags. It is biodegradable, and it has long, strong fibers that enable it to be recycled many times. The recycling rate for corrugated paper among end users is continually rising. By 2002 nearly 80 percent of grocery distributors and retailers had set up recycling programs, and 74 percent of corrugated containers were recycled, or 23.2 million short tons (AFPA).




Recycling options

Cardboard can be recycled at a number of drop-off/buy-back locations throughout the city. These materials are also accepted by Chicago’s blue cart program and most office and apartment recycling programs. Check with your building manager for details. Also NOTE: Some recycling centers mix chipboard and corrugated paper together; others do not. And wax-coated paper (such as used for frozen food packaging) is rarely acceptable for recycling.

Another option is to check for drop-off sites at grocery stores or other high volume businesses. Check with your local store for specific information. Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s also accept boxes at many of their distribution centers. Completing the “loop,” Jewel-Osco introduced new bakery and donut boxes in 2003, which are composed of 100% recycled paperboard and are 100% recyclable, including the special plastic window film. (See link below for more information.)

Web resources

American Forest and Paper Association

The Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC)