Should cardboard boxes carry a reuse symbol? (continued)

A debate was recently started by Sadlers amongst peers in the recycling trade about the inclusion of a reuse symbol on cardboard boxes alongside the recycling symbol.

Mike Sadler argued that large producers of cardboard waste don't always realise that their boxes can be reused once before being recycled, and instead bale their waste for recycling after first use.

When cardboard is sent to a paper mill or processing plant it's converted back to paper and often ends up being made back into boxes.

This not only wastes energy but Mike highlights the fact that "the material has a higher value for reuse than it has for recycling so large producers of waste cardboard could see a dramatic increase in revenue if they switch to reuse".

Boxes can then be recycled after two uses, delaying the supply of material for recycling and reducing the consumption of energy, paper and trees, and demand for used boxes is high.

Some argue that reuse might not always be possible due to damage or contamination. In these cases recycling is the best option, but for all suitable boxes, reuse is usually better all round.

Another concern is whether certain brands would be cautious about their logo and brand being used by other companies. In some cases this is indeed true and some brands are keen to protect their image. However, many companies are happy for their brand to be associated with an environmentally friendly scheme.

An environmental consultant involved in the debate raises the point that the European Union has mandatory recycling targets but unfortunately no targets for reuse. Perhaps the inclusion of a reuse symbol on boxes would raise the issue and prompt further debates.

Adding reuse symbols to boxes would serve to highlight the possibilities and encourage reuse. It's simply a matter of raising awareness.

For more information on Sadlers and their cardboard box reuse scheme, browse their website or call 0121 772 5200.