Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner


Cardboard is an item most people use on a regular basis and can be easily recycled. Most municipalities and businesses recycle cardboard. If your town or business does not recycle cardboard, it can often be taken to a recycling center for recycling.

One important key to remember about cardboard recycling is that corrugated cardboard and "chip board" or "paper board" (i.e. cereal boxes) is often distinguished by commercial and municipal recycling centers and often needs to be separated accordingly. Items like pizza boxes must be clean and free of food in order to be recycled.


  • Over 90% of all products in the U.S. are shipped in corrugated cardboard boxes.
  • 70% of all corrugated is recovered for recycling-the largest source of waste paper collected for recycling.
  • Corrugated is often made of recycled content and almost always made of post-consumer material.
  • Corrugated packaging allows significant source reduction by eliminating the need for overwraps and secondary packaging. It also can be engineered for increased strength using less raw materials, a process called "lightweighting".
  • Corrugated is more environmentally friendly than ever, able to accept non-toxic water-based inks and also to be processed without bleaching.
  • After it's recycled, paper (including OCC) is used to make chipboard, paperboard (i.e., cereal boxes), paper towels, tissues, and printing and writing paper.
  • Ozone-depleting chemicals have been virtually eliminated from the manufacture of OCC; the use of heavy metals has been dramatically reduced; over 97% of inks on boxes are now water-based and non-toxic; and virtually all box plant trimmings (waste from manufacturing) are recycled.
  • Even raw materials used to make OCC-lumber industry byproducts such as sawdust and wood chips-are renewable resources.
  • Making the pulp from trees for use in corrugated cardboard creates sulfur dioxide pollution. Recycling corrugated cardboard into new products cuts the pollution generated by half.
  • Corrugated cardboard manufactured from recycled pulp uses about 75% of the energy used in the manufacture of corrugated cardboard made from virgin pulp.
  • Corrugated packaging is a $17 billion per-year industry-the largest segment of the entire packaging industry.
  • In 1999, 45% of all the paper Americans used, including corrugated cardboard, was recovered-47.3 million tons, an all-time record. Americans are well on the way to meeting the American Forest & Paper Association's (AF&PA's) goal of recovery of 50% of all paper used in the U.S.

Source: WasteCap Resource Solutions

Examples include: boxes, cereal boxes, corrugated cardboard, pizza boxes

  • Contact for this Page
  • Division of Materials Management
    Bureau of Waste Reduction and Recycling
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-7253
    Send us an email
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions