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What is Chipboard?


Cardboard vs. Chipboard: Can you tell the difference and why it matters!


As we mentioned in our November Wrap-Up newsletter this month, we like to use cardboard to mulch our gardens, and we often collect it from Knox County individuals and shops in town.


Collecting it this way typically leads to the issue of chipboard and why we avoid it in the gardens.


So let's start with the good stuff: cardboard.

Cardboard (sometimes referred to as corrugated cardboard or containerboard) consists of three layers of paper. The middle layer, or fluting, is pleated and provides strength. Adhesives are minimized in cardboard thanks to the design, and more and more, cardboard packaging is using paper based tapes making our work easier and easier!

Corrugated cardboard is used for applications such as shipping boxes, pizza delivery boxes, and retail displays and packaging.

(And BTW, we can use pizza boxes! The food bits left on them just tend to decompose on the ground for us, so we use 'em - our cardboard often gets covered in layers of paper, leaves, and straw anyway! We just turn the food bit side down toward the ground to keep from attracting scavenger animals or being too gross in its decomposition!)


Chipboard (or paperboard) is a single-layer, lightweight, durable paper stock. Unlike corrugated, chipboard is rarely used for heavy-duty packaging and shipping.

Instead, chipboard dominates the packaging industry for small consumer goods, such as cereal boxes, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, beverage cases, toy, and electronic packaging projects.

Made similarly to how particle board is created, chipboard starts by mechanically fracturing wood into small samples of moistened "chips." After drying, the chips are mixed with resin and formed into boards by curing. Chipboards typically contain a long list of chemicals and glue compounds, both of which can leach into the soil. They are made with synthetic resins that are best left in your recycling bin, and even then you want to check that your recycling service can take it - sometimes chipboard is difficult to recycle.


Here in Knox County, our recycling centers do tend to accept it!


So once again, you now know more than you thought you ever would about our municipal waste streams and the end of life part of consumer good cycles!


If you find yourself buried in cardboard this holiday season, let us know.

We will likely take it off your hands and ensure it's REALLY recycled...all the way back into the cycle of life in the gardens!



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