Cardboard is such a versatile material, and it turns out, it is surprisingly strong.
Cardboard is a very common item, used at home and at businesses everywhere. It’s renewable, and easy to recycle and transport. In fact, businesses generate most of the estimated 31.4 million tons of corrugated cardboard discarded each year. The good news is almost 80 percent of these boxes are recycled. It’s time to move far beyond just boxes in our look at innovative every day items made from cardboard.
The Cascades ThermaFresh provides a unique portable alternative to the plastic or Styrofoam cooler. Made from 70% recycled cardboard, it is lined with a waterproof coating that makes it weatherproof and reusable. The outer shell of the camping cooler is composed entirely of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cardboard, while the inside insulating shell is made of paperboard covered with a metalized film liner. Who would have thought that cardboard could be utilized in this way? Plus it is much easier to recycle than plastic or polystyrene.
How about a full functioning desktop workstation computer made out of cardboard? Recompute is the world’s only Full Life Cycle Designed PC. Rest assured, cardboard is incredibly strong when configured correctly. For those of you with doubts, the Recompute team has put over 800 lbs (363 kg) on a Recompute case with no problems! A solid ventilation system keeps the cardboard cool, and the system has undergone tons of quality testing.
One of the most challenging aspects of computer recycling is dismantling the pieces, so we’re in luck: All the components of the Recompute computer are recyclable and only take minutes to separate. Be sure to read about the issues surrounding e-waste and information about computer disposal and recycling on our 3-part series.
Our exploration of cool stuff made from cardboard continues with the Card Radio by Irish designer Christopher McNicholl. You can listen to an FM radio and play your MP3s on a speaker, with all of the working parts situated within cardboard. It’s designed with simplicity and the end of the product’s life in mind, which makes it pretty cool. Have a look at the way it all comes together: Photo right courtesy of SUCK UK Ltd Company.
The Vax Ev is made of recycled and recyclable materials, including corrugated cardboard panels from the Vax Ev’s original packaging. Designed by Jake Tyler, a student at the U.K.’s Loughborough University, once you detach it from the box, parts easily fit into place around the motor housing without needing to use glue. Another main bonus is that parts can be replaced at a fraction of the cost of their plastic counterparts. Photo right courtesy of Vax.
All of these products make a tremendous start in reducing waste that is inevitably produced when items reach the end of their useful life. Remember that recycled materials used to create new items saves energy, and recycling is one of the steps along the way to reduce waste, with reduce and reuse coming first.
Recycle Cardboard at Home
For cardboard you use at home, here’s a few simple tips:
- Break boxes down flat to save space in recycling bins
- Be sure to remove all straps, polystyrene, plastic, and other contaminants before recycling
- If you generate large quantities, consider baling your cardboard
- Wet cardboard is often rejected at a recycling center, so make sure its stored in clean, dry place
For more proof of the limitless ways to repurpose and other great ways that cardboard is recycled, check out the fascinating creations of artist Luci Lytle.