biodegradable cardboard

Is cardboard biodegradable? – Bright side as well as the dark side unveiled!

At first, let us look at what is biodegradable waste before discussing is cardboard biodegradable or not. A biodegradable substance is a material that can be decomposed by bacteria or via other natural processes. Of course, they are not a reason for pollution. Biodegradable waste is unwanted, used materials, mostly originating from plants or animal sources. Most importantly, living organisms can degrade them pretty easily. Natural factors like microbes (e.g., fungi, bacteria, and few more), non-lively elements like UV, temperature; oxygen, etc. have the potential of breaking down biodegradable wastes.

Some examples of such biodegradable wastes are food materials, kitchen wastes, and other natural wastes. Microorganisms and other abiotic factors break down complex materials into much simpler organic substances, eventually disappearing and fading into the soil. The whole mechanism is natural. It can be very rapid or slow. So, the environmental issues that are caused by biodegradable wastes and other risks are much lower than any other waste.

Is cardboard environment friendly?

Cardboard has a lot of environmental-related advantages. It is 100 percent recyclable even if we use it in the form of ridged fiberboard or paperboard. But, cardboard does not cause any wastage. People commonly use them in packaging factories to create boxes, bags, support pads, etc.
Cardboards are quite strong materials. People use them pretty effectively across the world for various reasons.

Cardboard is a term that is used for long term durable paper-based items. These papers are thick and dependable. They have numerous features as follows:

Yeah, we can fold them. But they are pretty hard to bend due to their resistance power. The manufacturing of cardboard can vary from a thick sheet to the flat layers. We use the term “paperboard” for thick sheets. Here, we use the term “corrugated cardboard” for flat layers.
Most people have doubts about their opinions, that is cardboard eco-friendly or not. Well, it is. It is an environmentally-friendly material for sure, and also it can simply be recycled. It is a safe material for our environment. In the modern-day, there are many techniques, processes, and machines which have made the recycling of cardboard easier. Cardboard is also known as a green and sustainable material. It is falling into the following three categories.

• Reusable

• Ecological

• Recyclable

Is cardboard biodegradable?

When cardboard has not exposed to water, food, or any other oil types, it is very easy to recycle. Since biodegradation is a natural process, we do not have to worry about throwing them into a recycling bin to break down. If we are not willing to recycle cardboard for a specific reason, the carbon molecules of cardboard cause it to decay just within a matter of time. Under optimal environmental conditions, cardboard has the potential of degrading within a period of around two months.

But it is hard to recycle all types of cardboard. Certain cardboard types comprise of different substances in addition to the natural pulp. Such cardboard types are really hard to breakdown. For example, there are cardboards with laminate coats or wax-coats. Such cardboard types require layering cardboard with many chemicals that will make it harder to break down); they are much more challenging to recycle.

For example, if we see most tissue boxes’ packaging, we can point out that the texture outside the box is dissimilar from the one inside. Though the inside normally comprises of untreated cardboard, the outside comprises of plastic and other chemicals like coloring agents to give it an attractive finish. These make them more difficult to compost.

Facts that cause the cardboard to biodegrade

• Types of Cardboard

When considering milk or juice cartons, they are heavily processed type of cardboard. They have a coat with a wax or similar substance to stop the leakages. These normally take around five years for the decomposing process. Yeah, it is such a very slow process. Since this cardboard type is highly water-resistant, the decomposing becomes remarkably prolong. When considering corrugated cardboard, the composting process is speedier.

• State of the Cardboard

It is possible to speed up the decomposition process by breaking down cardboard into smaller pieces. Ripping or shredding the cardboard into pieces and mixing these pieces with viable soil ensure faster and effective biodegradation. There, the exposure of relatively more surface area to water and biological decomposers takes place. Consequently, the process of biodegrading occurs more efficiently.

• Surrounding Environment

Different environmental surroundings affect the decomposition mechanism. Mostly the moisture, heat, and the existence of other biological materials are a few of the factors. The much wetness in the environment is the best condition. Wetness in the environment accelerates the decomposition of life forms faster.

Even though the soil has pretty much moisture, nothing can decompose completely. There must be an engaging ecosystem within the soil itself so it can quickly decompose cardboard.

The Bottom Line- Is cardboard biodegradable?

Like a lot of paper-based products, the production of cardboard takes place in the paper mills. Paper mills are one of the largest industries which are responsible for chemical pollution. This is because paper mills emit numerous chemicals to the environment. Those chemicals contribute to air and water pollution to a greater extent.

Not only that but also paper mills are responsible for four percent of the world’s energy utilization. Although it does not sound like a lot, it is the 5th largest consumer in that whole. Cardboard, therefore, is biodegradable and also recyclable, although it is not totally environmentally friendly. However, when comparing plastics’ usage, it may be less dangerous if we want to cut down on our waste. Hopefully, there will be much better and greener options for the packaging industry to truly cut down the waste of packaging in the nearest future.

Within the dry, inhospitable conditions, removed from the soil, cold, or stacked firmly in sheets with little surface faced to the elements, the cardboard will remain undecomposed for longer years. Unless conditions are accurately sterile, microorganisms will automatically work their way up and break it down, but this can be a prolonged process. In more common garden conditions, when a piece of cardboard is used as mulch or shredded and soaked to decompose efficiently, the biodegradation will occur quickly. It has proven the majority of cardboard can completely break down within three months.

 

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