Cardboard waste holds more value than you think

18 August 2020

Cardboard waste holds more value than you think

If you produce cardboard waste in volume you'll know that the price of baled cardboard waste is falling again, which means that reuse is even better for your company's finances, and will be for some time to come.

Earlier this year we saw the value of baled paper and cardboard waste rocket sky high from an all-time low due to the pressure COVID-19 put on recycling, infrastructure and cardboard box manufacturers. At the same time, we predicted that baled prices would start to fall again rapidly after lockdown restrictions were lifted.

And that's exactly what's happening. 

waste cardboard prices

sell cardboard boxes in volume

Cardboard box recycling: the options

There are different ways that companies can make money from used boxes:

  1. Some businesses choose to recycle material through a waste paper company. This will often involve charges for the placement of an on-site container which can become costly.

  2. Others choose to buy or rent a cardboard baler and sell directly to a paper mill. Once again, this can be costly and the cardboard loses value once it is baled.

  3. Many larger organisations outsource to a waste management company who will try to find the best option for their client: sometimes the best option might be speed or convenience, sometimes it is the most sustainable, and sometimes the best option is the one that offers the best rebates for their waste. A good waste management company will weigh up how best to manage all types of waste on site, based on each customer's requirements. This may involve working with us to divert waste to reuse.

The advantage of diverting used boxes to reuse with Sadlers is that the scheme ticks all of those boxes:

  • speed and convenience
  • environmental sustainability
  • financial gains and security

Considering buying a cardboard baler?

Think again, unless your waste cardboard is mixed or damaged. If simple changes to waste segregation could result in pallets of consistently-sized, reusable boxes, sell your cardboard boxes to us! Buying a cardboard baler so that you can sell cardboard to paper mills requires a large investment, as does renting one. Diverting to reuse however costs nothing... in fact it pays well.

Who buys cardboard boxes?

Sadlers are the leading buyers of used and redundant cardboard boxes in the UK. Using our transport network we'll collect directly from your site - simple and effective. We have been doing this very successfully with a wealth of experience and have come across many different questions, scenarios and barriers which we have helped customers understand or overcome.

Lets Recycle prices: an analysis

Using historical waste prices from Lets Recycle we can demonstrate the volatility of prices associated with baling cardboard waste.

For example, in August 2019, the average price for baled cardboard was around £40 - £55 per tonne. Not great.

By December that year, it had fallen to £10 - £15 per tonne! This massive drop presented huge problems in the waste management world as companies were paying to have their cardboard waste taken away! 

However, those who were already selling their boxes for reuse were benefiting not only from high rebates for their waste, but crucially, stability in prices. When you divert to reuse, and you work with us on a regular basis, we can guarantee a price for the long-term, giving a level of security that cushion from shocks in the market.

It's not only domestic problems that cause baled waste price shocks. Global issues have lasting effects too. It's just too unpredictable to rely on as a way to manage the disposal of used cardboard boxes.

So how much can I get for my used boxes?

Do you create large volumes of reusable cardboard boxes on a regular basis?
Or do you have a one-off supply of used or surplus boxes?
Are these boxes consistently-sized, e.g. a small range of sizes but in relatively large volumes?

If you think you may be eligible for cardboard box reuse, call 0121 772 5200 or tap the 'get a quote button' on our we buy boxes page. We look forward to hearing from you.


Author: Lauren Sadler, MSc Sustainable Development, University of Exeter
Bio: Lauren is passionate about sustainability and works hard to raise awareness of circular solutions to waste problems.