Cardboard Recycling

Recycling cardboard turns your old boxes and packaging into sustainable new products.

shredded cardboard


Recycled cardboard is used to create all sorts of packaging and paper products we use every day. So, what can you recycle?

Examples of cardboard you can recycle:

  • Moving boxes
  • Food boxes
  • Shipping boxes
  • Envelopes & folders

Guidelines for Recycling Cardboard

Understanding how to recycle cardboard is important. Before recycling cardboard, make sure it’s not contaminated by any food or liquid*.


  • Remove and discard bags or liners from food packaging.
  • Flatten boxes to make space for more recyclables.


  • No wet or soiled materials.
  • No used paper plates* and to-go cups.
Residential carts
pizza boxes stacked

Are Takeout Containers Recyclable?

It depends on the type of takeout container and its condition. For example:

  • Soiled cardboard, like greasy pizza boxes, is not recyclable.
  • Clean cardboard, like drink holders, is recyclable.
  • Coated paper containers are not recyclable.
  • Most beverage cups and cans are recyclable.
  • Not all plastic containers are recyclable, but those marked #1 and #2 are usually acceptable.
  • Polystyrene clamshells and cups are not recyclable.

*California customers may place greasy pizza boxes and other food-soiled paper items in the organics bin. See more information on California SB 1383 regulations here.

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stacked cardboard

Did You Know?

  1. More than 90% of all products shipped in the U.S. are packaged in corrugated boxes, which totals more than 400 billion square feet of cardboard annually.

  2. Recycling cardboard only takes 75% of the energy needed to make new cardboard.
  3. Recycling 1 ton of cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil.

Source: Recycle Across America®, last updated September 2020

cardboard boxes

The Future of Recycling

With the rise in online shopping, our facilities have seen an influx of smaller boxes – referred to as the “Amazon Effect.” We addressed this shift by investing in new machinery that better captures smaller cardboard shipping boxes.

Join Us on a Recycling Center Tour

Take a virtual tour through one of our state-of-the-art recycling centers and see how your recyclables are sorted and baled to be turned into new products.

employee smiling in recycling facility

Recycling Made Easy

Recycling helps keep valuable materials in the circular economy longer, putting less strain on our environment. Get tips on how to properly recycle each item:

Metal and Aluminum
woman tossing recycling in recycling bin

Recycling 101

The more you know, the bigger impact you can make.

Recycling plays an important role in protecting our planet. Discover how easy and impactful it is. Our planet is precious. Let’s protect it together.

Discover How

Leading the Way in
Environmental Services

At Republic Services, we’re dedicated to creating a cleaner, safer, healthier world for all. Millions of customers rely on us for products and services that protect our environment and the communities we serve.

See our Sustainability in Action
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