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Because You Asked

Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Wax-Coated Cardboard?

By Recyclebank |

Wax can protect and strengthen cardboard, but it comes with drawbacks. Learn how to spot the waxed stuff and what to do with it.

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

When and where have you encountered waxed cardboard? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Michael B. 7 days ago
    I will stop visiting your site since the weekly points from my recycle bin is not counted or recorded
    • Randy F. 1 day ago
      Hi There!

      Hope you're still here.

      You can still earn 5 Points EVERY Day Plus+ there are many bonuses monthly including the "Earn Points" Page, "Live Green" Page, and e-Mail invitations that you click on for eXtra Points, usually 10. So you can still earn 150-200 points a month semi-easily if you're interested.
      If you have points remaining you may want to cash them out since they will eXpire in a few months, after inactivity . . . Your Choice.

      Our town also longer participates/ pays towards this site but I like to learn, earn, teach, & encourage whenever I can - so I'm sticking around: even though I was lured here for the Free Gift Cards, Free Memberships, & Free Magazines (completely free with points) that USED to be offered (JC Penney, Dominos, Pogo Games) and now ALL of that is gone but the magazines. Additional offerings/ Items cost thousands of points (and benefit site owner) now and only "Chances" can be bought to possibly win a gift card * thousands of people may pay & compete for just one small gift card so the Chance of winning is eXtremely low and a rip-off(compared to a capped contest of limiting entrants per prize).

      So there are pro's.
  • Rosie L. 10 days ago
    What about those toothpaste boxes, they're glossy & feel like wax?
  • Rebecca D. 10 days ago
    I have some of the boxes stacked in my trunk so I can carry potted plants, dishes to church functions and odd items at the grocery store. Keeps my trunk clean and groceries safe from smashing and breaking.
  • C Kay B. 12 days ago
    I have received boxes with waxed inner sides however, I keep them for re=packing. I think they were used to ship makeup stuff from Amazon. I'll pay attention and let you know for sure.
  • Lynn A. 12 days ago
    I was told that corregated cardboard boxes with glossy outsides (not waxy) shouldn't be recycled with regular brown corregated cardboard. Is this generally true or not?
    • Kathy F. 11 days ago
      it you mean like cereal boxes . our recycle place says do not put them in the cardboard. but in the newspaper. and if any box that had food touching it that can not be recycled. like instant potatoes, rice pizza.
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