Is Cardboard Packaging Environmentally Friendly?

Cardboard packaging

“We need to ban plastic!” “We need to stop using plastic products!” “Plastic is harming the planet.” What about cardboard packing?

These are some chants that we are hearing on a daily basis and it’s all true, unfortunately. This is because plastic cannot be decomposed and cannot biodegrade on its own.

That being said, people ultimately turn their heads to cardboard packaging, but hey, is cardboard packaging really environment-friendly?

Well, you have to read the article for more! 

Cardboard Packaging & Biodegradability

in case you are asking for the straightforward question is cardboard can be biodegraded, you have yes as the answer. However, there are limitations. This is because cardboard can only be biodegraded if it’s contaminated with oil, water, and food. On the contrary, cardboard packaging also has natural biodegradation which means there is hardly a need to put the cardboard in the recycling dumpsters for breaking them down. 

As this topic progresses, it’s only safe to ask if the cardboard packaging is better than those biodegradable plastic bags that have made a round around. It’s needless to say that biodegradable plastic might be better than old plastic but it cannot chase the cardboard. This is because cardboard is a reusable option but biodegradable plastic cannot be reused. For more information about composting and recycling cardboard, we have the information below!

Can We Recycle And/or Compost Cardboard Material?

Is biodegradable plastic a sustainable option? Is cardboard material better for the planet? Should we opt for composting or recycling? Truth be told, both methods of disposing of the cardboard or custom boxes with cardboard construction are leaving out ineffective consequences on the environment. However, there is a need to choose between the lesser of two evils and it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of these two different disposing methods. In the section below, we are sharing the insights!


There is no denying the fact that deforestation has been going on for decades and it’s become a significant issue and it’s needless to say that it keeps spiking up (it’s a negative connotation, of course). With every passing year, the consumption of paper is getting higher and even the companies are being wasteful with the paper. For this reason, we are already witnessing damaging outcomes all across the world. That being said, recycling is often considered to be the answer to deforestation

While it’s not entirely right, recycling is right for reversing or putting the brake on deforestation. With recycling, the need to chop down more trees will be reduced and it’s a good thing. However, we often fail to check out the other side of the story because it’s not the eco-friendliest option. This is because the recycling units tend to add to pollution and have been identified as the biggest polluter in the United States. In addition, these units are mixing chemicals into the water.

Not to forget, the leftover pulp from the recycling units tends to be extremely toxic which is added back to the waters, and we are drinking the same water. So, that’s something we need to work on!


Cardboard is constructed with natural and environmental materials which means it’s completely compostable which means it can break down into smaller yet natural elements. What’s about cardboard material is that it doesn’t leave behind harmful toxins and chemicals. When it comes down to the compost heap, it’s suitable that you add unbleached cardboard because it’s advantageous and helps save the environment. 

According to the experts, the soiled and paper-based materials have to be composted because it reduces the chances of bad smells and improves balance. In addition, when the cardboard is added to the compost heap, it eventually provides nutrients to the garden which boosts the plants’ growth. Composting is a great way of stopping the emissions (yes, the same emissions that are associated with recycling processes).

So, if composting has a greater chance of stopping pollution, why don’t simply call composting an improved option? That’s because cutting down the trees is bad for the environment rather than utilizing the emissions that are used for recycling. The bottom line is that composting is still a better option because the paper-based materials must be composted which includes the egg cartons, paper towels, and pizza boxes. 

Natural Decomposition of Cardboard into The Ground

When it comes down to decomposing cardboard into the ground naturally, it takes approximately two months. However, the time needed for decomposition depends on multiple factors, such as the type of cardboard, environment, and state of the material. This is because if cardboard material is covered up with wax, decomposition will take a longer time. 

Moreover, the damaged and broken-down pieces of cardboard will decompose pretty quickly. As far as the environment is concerned, if the surroundings are too moisturized and are too warm, decomposition will be quick and it even helps with the breakdown of the materials. So, the bottom line is that cardboard is environment-friendly, at least more than other counterparts in packaging

Cardboard packaging article and permission to publish here provided by Patricia Deems. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on July 12, 2021.