By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service estimates delivering ten-percent more packages compared to the same last year.

That’s a lot of cardboard. So, what happens to all of that packaging? Good Question.

The brown shipping boxes most people know to be called “cardboard” is actually referred to as “corrugated” by people in the recycling industry.

“It’s very important to us, it’s 30 percent of what comes in there,” says Julie Ketchum, a representative for Waste Management.

Once it’s picked up or dropped off from businesses and homes, the boxes are then sent to a recycling facility. At the Waste Management facility in Northeast Minneapolis, they are sorted and bailed.

From that facility, the corrugated heads to a paper mill for recycling.

According to Larry Newell, vice president of dapital assets, operations and engineering at Liberty Paper in Becker, the product is put into a large blender-like machine with water to change it from a solid material to a slurry.

From there, the pulp is cleaned and any tape, glue or staples are removed. Workers then add a solution to it before putting it into a paper machine. From there, the corrugated at Liberty is generally made back into corrugated.

According to the Fibre Box Association, the trade association for corrugated industry, 93-percent of corrugated material that makes it in the recycling bins can be recycled. Of that, about half is remade into corrugated and the other half is made into other paper or shipped abroad.

Newell says, under the right conditions, corrugated can be recycled between five and seven times.

Recyclers prefer cleaner boxes when recycled – where any Styrofoam or food is removed.

“There is a high percentage of cardboard recycled in Minnesota,” says Ketchum. “We have a really good recycling system here.”

Heather Brown