The Basics Of Cardboard Recycling

Posted on: 18 April 2022

Does your business end up with a lot of cardboard waste that you want to recycle? If so, you're likely wondering what happens once the cardboard is taken by a recycling company like Mid America Paper Recycling Co to be recycled. 

The Preparation

The process starts by simply collecting the raw cardboard material. It is compacted into large cubes so that the cardboard takes up as little space as possible until it is ready to start the recycling process. 

The Pulper 

Those cubes of cardboard are then placed into a pulper, where the cardboard is mixed with water so that the cardboard is broken down into a paste. This is also where all of the other foreign materials are removed, such as metal and plastic, to keep the cardboard paste as pure as possible. 

The Drying Process

The paste is then put through various equipment that dries out the paste. The goal is to work the paste until it turns into the desired consistency to be turned into paper. The dried paste is then stored in large bins until it is ready to be processed in the next step.

The Presser

The dried cardboard is then sent to a new machine that actually adds water back to the dried cardboard. This allows the material to be pressed into a form that can be used to create the proper shape. Chemicals are also added to the cardboard at this point that makes it more resistant to water and heat, since cardboard is often used for packaging where it needs to be resistant to outdoor elements.

The Headbox

The paste mixture at this point in the recycling process is more water than cardboard, as it travels through a tube so that it can be processed by the headbox. The paste is sprayed onto a rotating drum that contains a mesh material on it. A vacuum is used to suck that paste onto the drum and remove water from the mixture. 

The Felt Drum

The cardboard paste is then removed from the headbox by a felt drum, which squeezes the remaining water out of the paste. The cardboard then is moved to a conveyor belt where it takes on its final shape.

The Vat Former Drums

Multiple drums are used to apply a thin layer of cardboard to the sheet, with each vat former increasing the cardboard's thickness. This is how it is determined how thick the cardboard will be for its intended purpose. 

The Drying Drums

The cardboard is dried by passing over several drying cylinders. Each cylinder is heated internally with steam to get it to the desired temperature as the drum presses against the cardboard. The cardboard is then put on giant spools, where it can be used to form different types of boxes using additional machines.