51  Cardboard boxes and cartons

Reuse is the best form of recycling

Traditionally cardboard has been perceived as easier to recycle than to reuse.  This is changing, which is a positive change in line with the Governments waste hierarchy - which rightly states that reuse is a more economic and efficient approach to resources than recycling.  Improvements in quality and standards in the corrugated packaging sector may have helped enable this change - see CPI's website sections  www.paper.org.uk/info/corrugated/strengths.htm  and  www.paper.org.uk/info/corrugated/onthemove.htm  which includes case studies. 

An environment friendly packaging material

For arguments promoting the positive environmental aspects of corrugated cardboard, see CPI's website section www.paper.org.uk/info/corrugated/fragile.htm 'Packaging for a Fragile Planet'.  "The corrugated industry is proud of its record for recycling - over 70% of the fibreboard produced each year is made from recycled fibres.  Corrugated board is not made from tropical forest hardwoods - they are entirely unsuitable for the process.  The industry uses fast-growing softwoods, which are being replanted faster than they are being used."

Addressing the value of cardboard as a resource

Waste cartons have had a fluctuating economic value for many decades.  Prices fluctuate considerably over time, and at times recovery values may be less than handling and transport costs.  When values are low merchants may charge to take it away.  Some merchants may not collect less than half a tonne from a premises unless they can also collect other, more profitable materials.  Yet because cardboard is bulky, and can take up valuable storage space, taking it out for separate collection can save space, and provide a saving on overall waste management costs.  

All cardboard boxes and cartons have different values, yielding different prices paid by recyclers, but one example of costs could be:  15p per carton x 600 cartons = £90  paid by a cardboard reuse and recycling company for the 600 cartons.  Whereas skipped removal can cost £70-90, and the cost of compactor services is higher.  

Instead many companies listed below will collect cardboard and pay a good price for it.  "Rather than pay to dispose of them - why not be paid to have them collected?  Reuse is the best form of recycling"  Dave Mason, Wholesale Cartons.  The price received for your cartons by collecting companies can reduce, and sometimes more than cover, the cost of your other waste removals.  

Some companies chip or shred their cardboard to use as packaging instead of polystyrene chips, although high levels of dust may make it unsuitable for packing high quality products. Other options are re-use, composting, and incineration, where there is a suitable combustion plant.

Animal bedding

Producers like EcoBed argue cardboard can be used in a similar way to wood shavings but is easier to handle when bedding down and mucking out.  ‘Recent surveys show that one of the major concerns to the equestrian world is the disposal of the used bedding’.  Cardboard bedding is biodegradable and can be incorporated into the ground like straw, breaks down quicker than shavings or straw in the ground.  At a time when the price of used cardboard is very low, this is welcome news.  Cardboard is often refused by paper and card recyclers, or they may charge for handling it. 

THE WASTEBOOK therefore views promotion of new uses for used cardboard as important, to prevent this massively used and widely available resource being wasted, and taking up valuable space at landfill sites. 

EcoBed states:  There are several problems when using wood shavings, and because of the decline in the industry producing these, a shortage has occurred and prices have consequently increased.  Dust is a major problem when shavings are handled.  The price of straw has increased recently because of alternative uses.  Respiratory problems are often caused or aggravated by spores contained in straw.  Paper has been successfully used in the past, but tends to blow around and get soggy very quickly.  Cardboard doesn't as the pieces are denser than paper.  Cardboard is easy to obtain, but strict standards may have to be set on types of raw product purchased, to ensure uncontaminated cardboard is used in processing.  It doesn’t break down into dust in use.  When corrugated cardboard is used, absorption and insulation factors are excellent.  Liquids (eg urine) run off quickly through bed to floor, and are absorbed slowly by the bottom layer leaving the top dry and odourless.  

Beverage cartons

Smith Anderson's Scottish paper mill is the first in the UK to recycle beverage cartons.  They can receive all cartons used for liquids such as milk, juice, soups, custards, and sauces.  ACE (see Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment below) states that 21% of cartons were recycled across Europe in 2000; this new mill may help the UK catch up.  In their journal ‘Earthmatters’ Friends of the Earth promoted the freepost carton recycling initiative run by the LFCMA, as number 35 of their ‘57 ways to lose waste’.  With more Community Recycling Network and Local Authorities taking up the challenge, the freepost facility has ended (labels were viable for free postage until 1st October 2004 - since this date any boxes using these freepost labels will be land-filled by the Post Office).  Labels and instructions for posting cartons to the mill can still be downloaded and printed for use, although postage will now have to be paid by the customer.  To download address labels go to www.drinkscartons.com/docs/recycling_uk.htm, scroll down to 'Friends of the Earth Promotion' and click on 'download here'.  

Cartons should be rinsed out after use and drained; flattened by pulling out the 'ears'; and packed into any cardboard box.  Plastic devices which form the opening and pouring 'gap' or hole can be cut off, to help flat pack the cartons.  Paper cups can be included but not other paper apart from the box.  After the label is applied the box can be taken to the Post Office for despatch.  ACE recommends:  avoid other packaging such as plastic or jiffy bags;  parcel tape or string can be used to seal the box.  The logo on the downloadable label acts as an identifier for the paper mill.  It ensures that cartons go into the right pulper, without need to open the box.


Note that manual flattening may be the cheapest option - smaller balers often have quite high labour costs to operate, and some recycling plants do not favour baled deliveries - check capacities, speed of operation, labour needed, transport costs and requirements of your recyclers concerning deliveries.  

Also see
11  Green waste and composting  
31  Paper and card 
160  Local government services 
180  Waste management contractors 
190  Conversion to energy 
320  Recycled paper products 
500  Legal aspects of waste  (look for Packaging Regulations) 

Alphabetical list of organisations

Acorn Trading Co

Tel 0208 992 6366  Fax 0208 992 9660
101 Shakespeare Road, Acton, LONDON W3 6SA

Carton merchant - used cartons bought and sold.  Also stocks new and old boxes for moving house.  Other non-recycled items:  bubble wrap, pallet wrap, polystyrene chips, polythene bags, packaging tapes, and other items to order.   (Updated August 2005)

Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE)
Tel 0208 977 6116  Fax 0208 977 6909 / 3122
Email  info@drinkscartons.com   Website  www.drinkscartons.com
Churcham House, 1 Bridgeman Road, TEDDINGTON, Middx TW11 9AJ
Contact  Jenny Francis  

International coalition of ten manufacturers of paperboard and paper cartons who work together to promote consumer and environmental benefits of beverage cartons.  People can phone for or download labels (go to www.drinkscartons.com/docs/recycling_uk.htm and click on 'download here') to return beverage cartons for recycling - more information under Beverage Cartons in the editorial above.  In the UK, ACE works with environmental and industry partners in the areas of forestry and packaging.  Parent organisation based in Brussels.   (Updated May 2004)

Alibone Recycling Ltd

Tel 01604 644963  Fax 01604 492685
Sandy Hill Lane, Overstone Road, MOULTON, Northants NN3 7JB
Contact  Ian Gray

Dealer in recycled materials including paper, cardboard, and plastics.  Also deals in new and used cartons.  (Updated August 2005)

Collins Cartons Ltd

Tel 01277 356147  Fax 01708 867578
Unit 1A, Purfleet Industrial Park, London Road, SOUTH OCKENDEN, Essex RM15 4YA
Contact  Johnathon Collins

Merchant of new and used cardboard boxes and cartons.    (Updated August 2005)

CPI - Corrugated Sector
Tel 01793 889602  Fax 01793 878700 
Email abarnetson@paper.org.uk  Website www.paper.org.uk/corrugatedsector/corrugatedhome.htm or www.paper.org.uk/contact/details.htm 
Corrugated Sector, Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), 1 Rivenhall Road, SWINDON, Wilts SN5 7BD 
Contact  Andrew Barnetson, Mobile 07775 771662

Trade association - one of the four sectors of the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).  (Previously the Corrugated Packaging Association, and before that the British Fibreboard Packaging Association.)   (Updated August 2005)

Corrugated Packaging Association
- see CPI 

Crompton F

Tel 01296 661681  Fax 01296 668147 
Unit 20, Cheddington Lane, TRING, Herts HP23 4QR

Merchant of new and used carton and packaging materials.  Redundant stocks purchased.  

Eco-Bed Ltd
Tel 01263 735545  Fax 01263 732303 
Email sales@ecobed.co.uk  Website www.ecobed.co.uk
Oak Tree Farm, Marsham, Norwich NR10 5PJ 

Receives corrugated cardboard to produce biodegradable and dust free bedding 'ideal for equestrian and agricultural industries'.  Claims many advantages of this bedding over wood shavings, straw and paper, for  animals' health, ease of use, cleanliness, minimisation of waste, biodegradability and environment generally.  'Corrugations trap warm air, making a warm bed.  After use, can be used as mulch, a deterrent for weeds.  Can be incorporated into the ground like straw, yet breaks down quicker than shavings or straw.'  For more details see section 300 Recycled Content Products or 320 Recycled Paper Products.   (Updated Aug 2005)

Gadd, J Cartons Ltd

Tel 01525 371316
Kings Farm Estate, Billington Road, Stanbridge, LEIGHTON BUZZARD, Beds LU7 9HL
Contact  Ian Gadd

Dealer in new and used cartons, printed or plain.  No limit to quantity or size.  Payment on collection if requested.  

KES Reclamation
Tel 01753 655748  Fax 01753 630357
Website www.paperblankets.com  Email info@www.paperblankets.com
Church Farm, Church Road, IVER HEATH, Bucks SL0 0RA
Contact  Kirk Smith, Managing Director

Manufacturer of paper packaging.  All paper and other materials used in manufacturing are recyclable.  Claims Kraft papers are made with pulp from managed sustainable forests and chip papers are a 100% recycled product.  Also stocks acid-free tissue.  Works closely with removal companies, producing specialist paper blankets and blanket rolls for them.  Purchases and receives paper for reuse and recycling.  Installed their first blanket machine in 1990s, hence name of website.   (Updated August 2005)

K K Balers

Tel 01932 852423  Fax 01932 847170
Website www.kkbalers.com or www.kkgroupint.com 
Email sales@kkbalers.com or sales@www.kkgroupint.com 
Victory House, Victory Park Road, Addlestone, WEYBRIDGE, Surrey KT15 2AX

Supplier and manufacturer of baling and compacting equipment.  A range of units are available for reducing volumes of general waste and compaction of recyclable materials - from 5-litre manual metal can press (takes large cans eg for paints) to an automatic machine making briquettes by taking 750kg of cardboard per hour.  Machines also for wood and plastics.  Refurbished and second-hand machines supplied, subject to availability.  Can manufacture machines to suit customers applications.  Member of The KK Group, which includes KK Water Purification and KK Enviro-waste.   (Updated August 2005)

Manuel Lloyd Ltd

Tel 0208 807 4303
Bull Lane, LONDON N18 1SX

Sale and purchase of new and used cartons.

Portable Factory Equipment Ltd

Tel 0121 554 7343  Fax 0121 551 5230
48 Smith Street, Hockley, BIRMINGHAM, West Mids B19 3EW

Manufacture the 'Easypack 420S' portable cardboard shredding machine for converting waste cardboard into a loose fill packaging alternative to polystyrene chips.

Sadlers Carton Stockholders Ltd

Tel 0121 772 5200  Fax 0121 771 4368
10 Tilton Road, Small Heath, BIRMINGHAM, West Mids B9 4PE

Collection and purchase of quantities of reusable corrugated cartons within London and northern home counties.  On site storage containers provided and free consultancy with written proposals offered.

Wholesale Packaging (also Wholesale Cartons)
Tel / Fax  0208 386 6960   Mob 07958 489 313 - always available
Website www.wholesalecartons.co.uk  
Edgewarebury House Farm, Elstree Hill South, ELSTREE, Hertfordshire WD6 3DE
Contact  Dave Mason

Sale and purchase of new and used cartons.  Interested in hearing from companies who have cardboard boxes available.  "Rather than pay to dispose of them - why not be paid to have them collected?  Reuse is the best form of recycling.  Contact us for solutions to suit you."  Many companies pay £70-90 for a skipped removal, or more for compacting services.  If your waste builds up quickly, Dave Mason and his company have a solution to this - please contact by phone or fax.   Family business, established over 50 years. 
(Updated Aug 2005)