Your cardboard box was reincarnated
If you’ve been stuck at home this year, you’re probably getting too familiar with cardboard boxes. They magically arrive at your door protecting the things you order online like the latest New York Times Best Seller or those dinosaur shaped houseplant pots you were suddenly compelled to start collecting. As you unearth your newest coveted purchase, you probably don’t give the unassuming cardboard box it arrived in much thought. But what if I told you the box you are holding lived 20 previous lives before it ended up in your hands?
The fibres from corrugated cardboard can be reused up to 25 times (1) making cardboard a very recyclable material. When you put your cardboard box in the recycling bin, you’re sending it off for an exciting future. It could transform to deliver a baby’s first toy or gently cradle a steaming hot 4 cheese pizza.
But let’s back up for a second. What is cardboard anyway? At some point your box was a tree. Well, kind of. The average corrugated box contains 50% recycled material, so your box is actually a mashup of an inconceivable number of other boxes and some new material from the pulp industry.
Production starts with a massive roll of partially recycled paper. Rollers feed the paper through a corrugator that blasts hot steam to form the waves that make the cardboard corrugated. These waves are called the flute and the flute is was protects your purchases from damage by creating an air cushion. 2 paper liners are attached to the flute with a nontoxic starch-based glue that makes the cardboard safe enough to hold fruits, veggies, and that precious pizza.
Make sure you put that pizza box in the compost. Soiled cardboard should be composted. But don’t worry, cardboard is 100% compostable, meaning it can breakdown in natural elements and leave no harmful toxins. It takes only 2 months for cardboard to biodegrade. Plastic on the other hand, takes 800 years to decompose in soil. You can relax knowing the simple cardboard board box will deliver just about anything to you unscathed and go on to live many interesting lives.