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We offer a guide on how to recycle cardboard in South Africa, to make it easier to dispose of cardboard in an environmentally sensitive way.
This is useful for dealing with unwanted cardboard boxes after a move – and for weekly recycling of cardboard that comes into the home with groceries and other purchases.
Below we cover…
- some important reasons to recycle cardboard in SA
- tips for preparing cardboard for recycling
- where to find recycling depots across South Africa
- details of our Ecoboxes – an alternative to cardboard moving boxes.
Why recycle cardboard in SA?
Cardboard isn’t as harmful to the environment as plastic, but it’s preferable not to send it to landfills.
South Africa is facing a waste crisis. We produce an estimated 54.2 million tonnes of general waste per year. Of this, less than 10% is recycled.
This means our current landfill space is running out fast.
Every one tonne of recycled cardboard saves 6.9 m3 of landfill space.
Also, in a landfill, cardboard biodegrades in very large volumes, releasing methane. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.
Other reasons to recycle cardboard:
- recycled cardboard saves 24% of the energy required to make new cardboard
- recycling one tonne of corrugated cardboard saves about 2,750 litres of water
- recycling one tonne of cardboard saves about 390 kWh of energy and 174 litres of oil.
Image source: Mænsard vokser, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
How to prepare cardboard for third-party recycling
Your local recycling depot will have rules about how to prepare cardboard for recycling, but follow these general guidelines.
Separate any wet or dirty cardboard, which can’t be recycled. If there’s a composting site or service nearby, it might be able to take these spoiled items.
Wherever possible, remove tape, staples, Styrofoam and other packing materials that might interfere with the recycling process.
Flatten all boxes. They take up less space and are easier to transport. If you bundle the cardboard together, use twine.
Some cardboard that contains a wax coating or plastic, such as UHT boxes, might not be accepted. Check with your local recycling depot which types of cardboard it accepts.
Where to recycle cardboard in South Africa
This interactive map (a project of Sustainable Seas Trust) lets you search for recycling and waste management services in your city or town, across South Africa.
Zoom into your region, or use the filters on the side, to find recycling points for specific items (including cardboard and paper).
Also, some suburbs in South Africa have private recycling collection services set up, usually for a monthly fee. Check with your neighbours or on local Facebook and WhatsApp groups for information.
It’s also worth checking with local schools. Many have recycling programmes or drop-off points.
Reducing cardboard waste during moves
We rent Ecobox moving kits, each of which includes enough sturdy plastic moving boxes for a move of a particular size. The moving kits are ideal for using either instead of or in addition to cardboard boxes, to reduce cardboard waste.
We deliver – and after you’ve moved and unpacked, we can collect the Ecoboxes from your new address.
Every Ecobox is reused hundreds of times before it’s recycled.
If you buy our cardboard boxes at the same time as you rent an Ecobox moving kit, we can collect those too and ensure that they’re properly recycled.
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