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How to Recycle Packaging Materials A Complete Guide

You would want to choose cost-effective and eco-friendly packaging for your distinctive products, wouldn't you? Various materials produce packaging boxes that protect your items, safeguard the environment, and add value to your brand. Those materials are wood, glass, metal, plastics, paper, and paperboard. 

At Half Price Packaging, we concentrate our attempts on creating environmentally friendly, previously recycled paper and paperboard packaging materials. Our goal is to offer you high-standard packaging that is economical, sustainable, and ecologically responsible. 

For your better understanding, this article will provide a more in-depth exploration of each specific type of material: 

Paper and Paperboard Packaging Materials

Paper and paperboard are by far the most common types of packaging material. The most significant source of paper packaging is beverages, though other food items are also very demanding. Since paper is lightweight and safeguards the goods, transportation is affordable. Just place the packaging materials made of brown and white paperboard in the appropriate bin for recycling paper products. 

However, dyed or coated packaging is more challenging to recycle. It is preferable to remove the coating before recycling. Moreover, colored paper requires bleaching to make it completely recyclable. 

Recycling Paper and Cardboard


paper cardboard

Cardboard and paper break down much more quickly in nature than any other materials on the record. Cardboard takes about two months, and paper takes two to six weeks. Despite their quick decomposition, they don't need to end up in landfills as these materials are easily recyclable. 

A cardboard baling machine is the first step in a recycling plant's method for recycling paper and cardboard after separating them. Bales made from cardboard are sent to paper mills to be unbaled after delivery. Cardboard and water are combined to produce a pulp that is filtered through a number of steps to remove impurities and contaminants. Cardboard and paper are one of the most easily recyclable packing materials. They both minimize waste generation.  

Methods of Recycling:  

Based on inking processes:  

       i.         De-Inking 

De-inking extracts ink particles from fibers by dispersing them in water and treating them with surfactants. Adding bleach makes things brighter. Before recycling, paper mills whitewash or blackwash colored paper to create vibrant color. 

Otherwise, the recycled pulp batch's remaining recycled pulp will absorb the ink from the paper. To create long sheets of paper, the now-clean pulp is fed through a paper apparatus that completely drains the slurry of water. Companies prepare numerous products from paper, including boxes, toilet paper, tissue paper, printer paper, and writing paper.  

     ii.         Soy-Based Ink 

Compared to other types of ink, soy-based ink aged for four weeks is simpler to draw out from the paper pulp during the de-inking process. That results in less fiber damage and brighter paper. The waste is easy to handle as it is not hazardous.  

Based on the Lamination Process:  

       i.         Mechanical Recycling 

Mechanical recycling involves sorting and delivering plastic concentrate to recycling facilities. They are crushed, cleaned, separated, and dried before being sold for use in the production of other plastic products.  

Most recycled waste from the packaging recycled materials is tainted and unfit for use as food packaging. Plastics with different melting points, in particular, suffer from laminated layers' uneven blends, which lower their quality. 

     ii.         Chemical and Thermal Lamination  

Plastics are broken down into chemical forms through chemical and thermal recycling, producing products like chemicals and monomers for plastics or fuels. For mixed plastic waste, thermal recycling is preferred over mechanical recycling. 

    iii.         Organic Recycling 

Biodegradable laminates of multiple materials are recycled during organic recycling. It is technically possible because biodegradable materials are combined with other reusable materials. 

Plastic Packaging 

Plastic packaging can be flexible and rigid, making it suitable for many products. Plastic packaging is essential to the food and beverage industries for safeguarding and maintaining the quality of the food inside.  

Plastic is not a good recyclable packaging material compared to other materials. Numerous varieties of plastic packaging have specific design codes that provide protection flawlessly. 

Some types consist of: 

1.     Polyethylene Terephthalate, or PETE  

Uses: include thermoformed sheets, polyester fibers, and plastic soda bottles. 

Widely recyclable, generally regarded as safe with a few precautions; first, remove lids 

2.     High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)  

Uses: Jugs, tubs, recycling bins, and bags for groceries 

It is extensively recyclable but consult your local recyclers first to determine whether separating tubs and lids is a good practice or not. 

Generally regarded as safe if appropriate precautions taken. 

3.     Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC/V  

Uses: include pipe, fencing, and non-food bottles. 

It is not widely recyclable, and recycling is not a good idea because it is not environmentally friendly. 

4.     Polypropylene, or PP  

Uses: Dishware, food containers, and auto parts 

It is not frequently biodegradable but generally regarded as safe 

5.     Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) 

Uses: include containers, tubing, 6-pack rings, and plastic bags. 

Although not widely recyclable, sometimes grocery stores also collect plastic bags. 

Recycling plastic has reduced its impact on the environment, but most plastics (91%) are disposed of in landfills or burned after just one use. Plastic is not on the list of eco friendly packaging materials, but still, it is recycled. 

The most recycled plastics in the US are PETE/PET and HDPE. Recycling a specific type of plastic might not be economically feasible if there is no local demand for that material. Plastics with low demand are more likely to be burned or landfilled. By 2025, there will be a 33% increase in plastic chemical ingredients, which will help the plastics industry grow. 

It is a good practice to separate plastic before recycling because each type has unique properties. Otherwise, it will lose its quality. The separated plastics go to a recycling plant for shredding, and non-plastic materials are removed. After being ground into pellets, the heating of shreds is the next step until they melt, creating fresh plastic pieces. 

Metal Packaging 

Common in the food industry, metal box packaging employs tin aluminum cans. Liquids, gases, and light cannot pass through metal at all. Metal packaging can easily have embossing/ debossing, labels, or other items affixed to it. 

Because aluminum is 100% recyclable, companies melt it down to create new cans. Aluminum cans are one of the materials that allow recycling easily. Because it is a "closed cycle," it does not alter the quality. With 70% recycled metal, aluminum cans are the most environmentally friendly packaging recycled materials. Recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy than fresh aluminum when producing aluminum cans. 


When recycling cans, make sure to remove any food or liquids first. Ask the recycling facilitator if they need the paper wrappings attached or not. First, take off the top from the food cans and put it inside the container. 

Avoid crushing cans because doing so could contaminate the batch. Put the recyclables in the appropriate bin or take them to the recycling facilities in your area. When the recycling facility receives empty cans, they put them in a holding area with the other aluminum cans. Once there are sufficient numbers of cans, they are gathered into a bale and delivered to aluminum recyclers, where they are crushed and heated into molten aluminum. Together with other cans, the recycler gives it an ingot shape. 

In just 60 days, recycled cans transform into new product cans. Make sure to wash and discard your cans properly. 

Glass Packaging 

One of the most fragile materials used in packaging is glass. The beverage industry uses a considerable share of glass packaging, partly attributable to the rise in beer consumption. Glass is the best material for jars or bottles. It can have logos and designs embossed or debossed on it. Glass is completely recyclable, reduces climate change, and conserves natural resources. Still, it takes a million years for glass to decompose naturally. 

When Recycling Glass, only whole bottles and jars are suitable to place in the defined bin. Broken glass can shatter into smaller pieces challenging to collect and embed in, harming other recyclable materials like cardboard or paper. This glass has a much higher melting point than other glasses and won't mix well. Moreover, oven-proof glass is a contaminant, so you should never throw it. A ton of recycled glass only needs 5 grams of oven-proof glass for its contamination. Due to their different grade of glass and poor mixing capabilities, drinking glasses are also contaminants. 

What Are Cullets?  

Glass is one the finest recyclable materials for packaging without losing its integrity or quality. Glass scraps known as cullets make up 80% of bottles and other glass products. Glass collection companies or processors collect cullets and transport them to glass recycling facilities. Then they check the purity of the cullets and eliminate impurities. The next step is to add the mixture to the melting furnace after crushing it. Melting the glass produces new bottles and jars. 

Wood Packaging 

Wood packaging protects large and heavy items, and is a fine packaging material to display items. Wood supports and protects products in numerous industries, like the automotive, food, and chemical sectors. Wood boxes are environmentally friendly, and they take part in the making of animal bedding, mulch, boards, and a variety of other products. Companies also recycle them in paper mills to make different paper types. Numerous wood drop-off locations handle wood recycling. 

Untreated wood lasts 20 to 30 years less than treated wood, but the chemicals used in treatment can damage our surroundings. The release of toxins when treated or painted wood has given rise to some health issues. Take it to your nearby landfill or remove the coated components to dispose of it. Numerous different products give recycled wood packaging a second chance. Leaving wood recycling to your regional drop-off facilities for expert disposal is best. 

We hope that you get an idea of how to recycle the packaging materials. It's a complex process but a beneficial one. Recycling turns waste into materials that businesses can use to create new goods. By lowering the number of resources required to create new products, it can aid in the preservation of biodiversity.

eco friendly boxes 

Final Thoughts 

In this article, you came across the various types of packaging materials and their recyclable nature, so now you can make a strategy to decide which materials are best for your business 

Half Price Packaging produces most of the packaging boxes from previously used (post-consumer material), and we specialize in high-quality paper packaging.