Is Cardboard Recyclable?

Yes. Most forms of cardboard are recyclable. There are two primary types of cardboard: corrugated cardboard and paperboard. Corrugated cardboard is what is typically used for the boxes sent through the mail. These brown packing boxes contain an inner layer of cardboard between liner sheets to make them more durable.

According to the American Forest & Paper Association, Old Corrugated Cardboard/Containers (OCC) — which is a recycling industry term referring to used corrugated cardboard — had an incredibly high recovery rate of 96.4% in 2018, the highest recycling rate of paper products.

Paperboard, also known as chipboard, is commonly used to produce containers for food and consumer goods, such as shoe boxes or cereal boxes. Made of just a single layer or grayish paper material, this type of cardboard is more flimsy than corrugated cardboard, making it easier to tear or flatten.

It’s important to note that not all cardboard can be recycled. While they are recyclable in theory, used pizza boxes with oil stains or food remnants should not be thrown into the recycling bin. The same goes for boxes that have been soaked with chemicals from cleaning supplies or other household products.

Why? Because these substances can contaminate the cardboard and compromise the recycling process, making it harder to separate paper fibers from the oils. Unfortunately, these spoiled paper products belong in the trash (or compost, depending on your home/municipal capabilities).