The woes of wet cardboard

Save for a few bright spells here and there, it’s fair to say the British summer has been a little on the soggy side this year. It wasn’t long ago in fact that we were sat in the dry comfort of our home, watching a drenched cardboard box sat next to a recycling bin on the street, as it caved in under the weight of the heavy rain. And we couldn’t help but wonder: how many people know that you’re not supposed to recycle wet cardboard?

Let’s get straight to the point: wet cardboard and recycling don’t mix. For those wondering why a little moisture makes such a big difference, the issue lies in the fragile fibres that make up cardboard. When wet, the fibres lose their strength and the overall structure is weakened, which doesn’t bode well for the recycling process, where robust materials are essential.

Imagine sending a damp cardboard box through the automated machinery at a recycling facility, which are designed to handle pristine, dry cardboard with finesse, like a skilled pianist playing a concerto. The moment wet cardboard enters the scene, it’s like adding a discordant note to the symphony. The damp material can single-handedly clog gears, block sorting mechanisms, and therefore disrupt the smooth operation of the recycling process.

Additionally, wet cardboard is a magnet for more problems when thrown into the mix with other recyclables, as it can spread moisture and cause more issues for recycling workers, who end up having to manually separate the affected materials.

So, what’s the responsible way to deal with wet cardboard? Instead of tossing it into the recycling bin with the hope that it will make the cut, set it aside for a different fate. Allow it to air dry indoors, away from the rain and humidity. This simple act can restore its structural integrity and make it suitable for recycling once again. Think of it as a temporary timeout until it’s back in shape!

Alternatively, for those with a green thumb, wet cardboard can find new purpose as a composting aid. Why not shred it into smaller pieces and mix it with other compostable materials, enriching your garden soil and closing the loop on its lifecycle?

Wet cardboard should be viewed as a temporary setback, rather than a lost cause. Treating it with care, allowing it to dry, and making informed disposal choices can contribute to smoother recycling operations and a cleaner environment. By understanding the importance of keeping cardboard dry, we can be responsible citizens and play our part in the larger recycling story, supporting the efforts of those working diligently behind the scenes.