Dear Recyclebank: Can you recycle wax-coated cardboard? –Janice P.
Dear Janice: Wax-coated cardboard runs into the classic issues of mixed-material recycling. Some residential recycling programs might accept it, but many don’t, so it’s not a sure thing. Be sure to ask your hauler before putting any waxed cardboard in your recycle container. You may have other options as well.
The term “wax-coated” is something of a misnomer. The “wax” is usually actually polyethylene, a type of plastic that’s widely used and widely recycled; you may know several of its forms as #1, #2, and #4 plastic. Unlike the lamination used on other boxes, though, the plastic in wax-coated cardboard can’t be cleanly separated from the paper underneath.
The good news is that many things you may think are waxed really aren’t. Wax-coated cardboard isn’t widely used in packaging for items available for purchase in stores. Thinner, non-corrugated paperboard — used in much consumer packaging (think cereal boxes) — tends not to be waxed. If you can’t scrape wax off with your nails, your packaging is probably just glossy, and recyclable, paperboard. True wax-coated cardboard is mostly used for commercial packing of produce, particularly produce boxes (or sometimes paper cups).
If you do end up with a big box of fruit that’s driving you bananas, you’re best bet would be to reuse it for storage, or find a company that wants to recycle it. For example, Enviro-Log recycles waxed cardboard from retailers into their products, so a second life is possible. Or you could see if the company you got the box from has a take-back program.
While composting is often a good choice for spare cardboard, we don’t recommend it here for the same reason we wouldn’t recommend tossing a plastic bag into your compost.
Remember that first glances aren’t always accurate, and sometimes packaging that appears to be of one form can be something entirely different. Make sure you know what you’re putting in your bin.
SOURCE: Recycling Today