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6 Incredible Ways Recycling Cardboard Benefits The Planet

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Published date: 18 March 2022

Why do we recycle cardboard? When you take the time to separate your cardboard waste into the recycling bin, does it really make a difference?

To show you that your good recycling habits are 100% worth the time and effort, here are 6 incredible ways recycling cardboard benefits the planet. From reducing energy, water and oil consumption to helping plant trees, these cardboard recycling facts prove the actions of those who recycle can make a monumental difference!

Why do we recycle cardboard? 6 facts showing how recycling benefits the planet


Recycling cardboard only uses 75% of the energy needed to make new cardboard

Making 1 tonne of corrugated cardboard emits 538 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is 4 to 6 times less than the emissions caused by manufacturing aluminium and plastic. What’s more impressive is that recycling cardboard uses even less energy to manufacture.

As part of the cardboard manufacturing process has already been completed, recycling cardboard uses 75% less energy than creating new cardboard. This saves 403.5 kg of CO2 emissions per tonne of cardboard recycled – equivalent to over 1,000 miles of driving in a car.

Not to mention, reduced energy consumption means fewer costs for both manufacturers and at the consumer end – something all the more important given the current energy crisis.

7,000 tonnes of water are saved for every tonne of cardboard recycled

Water is a necessary part of the cardboard manufacturing process – but not when cardboard is recycled, as this part of the process has already been completed. Because of this, recycling cardboard saves around 2 Olympic swimming pools of water for every ton recycled.

Did you know? Last year, Challenge Packaging returned 1,126 tonnes of cardboard to be recycled, saving 7.9 million tonnes of water!

Corrugated cardboard has the highest recycling rate of any packaging on the planet, saving 34 million trees every year

A monumental 84% of corrugated cardboard in the UK is recycled, amounting to 2 million tonnes per year.

Every tonne of cardboard that’s recycled saves around 17 trees. That means UK recycling saves 34 million trees every year, helping to conserve 680,000 acres of woodland and forest.

Recycling 1 tonne of cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil

More fuel is required to manufacture cardboard from a virgin tree than recycled cardboard. Every tonne of cardboard recycled avoids using more than a bathtub full of oil.

Did you know? Challenge Packaging ships around 26 tonnes of cardboard for recycling per day, equating to 1,196 gallons of oil saved. 

Recycling paper and cardboard saves 5.6 million tonnes of waste from clogging up landfills

Of the 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard used in the UK annually, 45% is recycled, amounting to 5.6 million tonnes saved from being sent to landfills. This would equate to a 200 acre landfill, 130 times the area of the White House!

The UK composts enough cardboard each year to cover the whole of Oxford

Composting cardboard is an excellent way to prevent packaging from going to landfills and to replenish the earth in your garden. 

Around 10% of cardboard is composted, equating to 1.3 million tonnes of composted cardboard in the UK. That's enough to layer Oxford 1cm deep in compost!

What UK city recycles the most cardboard?

UK government data shows the regions that are most prolific in their recycling habits, with Wales coming out on top as the country that recycles the most:

 UK TotalEngland Northern Ireland Scotland Wales 
 Recycling Rate 46.2%45.5% 50.6% 44.9% 56.4% 


In England, a study has shown that Three Rivers in Hertfordshire is doing the most when it comes to recycling. Over 64% of household waste in Three Rivers is recycled, equating to 20,923 tonnes per year. That’s more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower!

Here are the best areas for recycling in England:

English Councils with Best Recycling Rates Total Household Waste (tonnes) Tonnes sent for recycling, compost, reuse % of Household Waste Recycled 
 Three Rivers32,640 20,293 64.1% 
 South Oxfordshire51,874 33,174 64.0% 
 East Riding of Yorkshire170,747 108,154 63.3% 
 Vale of White Horse45,890 29,045 63.3% 
 St Albans50,388 31,730 63.0% 
 Surrey Heath32,109 20,211 62.9% 
 Derbyshire Dales27,455 17,007 61.9% 
 Rochford32,175 19,731 61.3% 
 North Somerset98,183 59,488 60.6% 
 Stratford-on-Avon57,699 34,916 60.5% 
 East Devon44,378 26,850 60.5% 
 South Northamptonshire40,216 24,078 59.9% 


However, some areas are lagging behind when it comes to recycling. Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria recycles less than any other district in England, at just 18.7%.

Here are the worst areas for recycling in England:


English Councils with Worst Recycling RatesTotal Household Waste (tonnes) Tonnes sent for Recycling, compost, reuse% of Household Waste Recycled 
 Barrow-in-Furness23,643 4,433 18.7% 
 Newham120,211 24,406 20.3% 
 Westminster City88,619 18,104 20.4% 
 Tower Hamlets74,143 15,960 21.5% 
 Birmingham City410,041 96,920 23.6% 
 Liverpool City175,334 41,439 23.6% 
 Wandsworth93,805 22,226 23.7% 
 Slough52,423 12,600 24.0% 
 Dartford37,368 9,094 24.3% 
 Gosport24,082 5,979 24.8% 
 Bassetlaw44,429 11,124 25.0% 
 Barking and Dagenham90,273 22,744 25.2% 


Find sustainable packaging solutions online today

‘It’s incredible to see the positive impact of recycling, and the growing awareness of environmental issues at the consumer’s end. But the buck doesn’t stop with them; far from it -- it’s up to organisations to enact proactive corporate social responsibility policies to properly tackle the climate crisis we face in order to have the biggest positive impact.

At Challenge Packaging, we live and breathe our 2025 sustainability pledge – not only in the nature of the products we supply, such as plastic-free tape, reusable bubble wrap and compostable eco loose fill, but also in our internal culture and practices. By returning cardboard, paper and other materials into the manufacturing process to be recycled, we’re proud to be reducing our carbon footprint and contributing towards a healthier planet.’

- Tom Wood, General Manager, Challenge Packaging

Browse Challenge Packaging's sustainable packaging solutions today.

Emissions saved equivalent to driving found using the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Calculator.

Acres of trees saved is based on The Environmentor: ‘1 million trees = 20,000 acres of forest’.

According to Statista, 2,200 acres of land holds 50 million tonnes of waste. Using this, we estimate 200 acres would hold 5 million tonnes of waste.

Compost size was calculated relative to Global Agriculture’s statistic: ‘The European Union is losing 970 million tonnes of soil per year due to water erosion, an amount equivalent to a one metre-depth loss of soil from an area the size of the city of Berlin or enough to cover an area twice the size of Belgium with one centimetre of soil.’ Based on this, we calculate 1.3 million tonnes of soil equates to 1cm thick coverage of roughly 41 km2.



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