Can You Recycle Wet Cardboard

Can You Recycle Wet Cardboard?

Can Concrete Be Recycled?
Can Concrete Be Recycled?

As we all know, cardboard is very recyclable. In fact, it is an incredibly simple product to recycle and everybody should be doing it. After all, in most towns and cities, cardboards can easily be picked up at the side of the road. We aren’t going to be talking about normal cardboard here, though. Instead, we are going to be talking about what happens if the cardboard is wet?

As a general rule, wet cardboard cannot be recycled. It interferes with many steps of the recycling process. If you have wet cardboard to recycle you should allow it to completely dry out before you bring it to the recycling center or put it in your curbside bin.

Is It Okay to Recycle Wet Cardboard?

Cardboard isn’t just suddenly non-recyclable when it gets a little bit wet. Things don’t work like that. It just becomes a whole lot more difficult to recycle. In fact, due to the increased difficulty in recycling wet cardboard, most recycling centers will refuse to accept it.

There are two main reasons why wet cardboard becomes a lot more difficult to handle for recycling centers.

First and foremost, wet cardboard has been known to clog up their machines. Even a small piece could completely shut down the recycling line for a long while. It is a hassle for just about everybody involved.

Does Cardboard Absorb Water?

Cardboard absorbs water as it’s made of paper. In order to make cardboard waterproof, wax or some other kind of coating needs to be applied to the outside of the cardboard.

Secondly, wet cardboard will not separate from the rest of the recycling quite so easily. This is due to the way in which recycling works.

Normally, items in recycling will be separated based upon how heavy they are. So, as items travel down the recycling line, they will be automatically shaken upon a conveyer belt. Lighter items like paper and cards will be separated out from everything else.

Recycle Wet Cardboard

However, if the cardboard is wet, it won’t be separated out. This is because it is heavier. As a result, it ends up in the wrong box for recycling. Again, this is something that is going to cause a whole lot of issues.

There are some indicators that wet cardboard can also be tough to recycle properly too. This is because the fibers inside of the cardboard will have changed a little bit.

This means that the machines will have a tougher time breaking it down. However, the main reasons that you should be avoiding recycling wet cardboard will be the two that we mentioned previously.

If this wasn’t enough, wet cardboard can be incredibly heavy. This makes it difficult for people to carry.

It also increases the risk of the bags tearing when the cardboard has been added to it. Again, these are even more issues that you need to be worrying about.

Does Home Depot Recycle Cardboard?

Home Depot recycles cardboard as part of their extensive recycling program. The recycled material is then used to make their moving boxes. To date, Home Depot has recycled more than 1,000,000 tons of cardboard.

How Can You Prepare Wet Cardboard for Recycling?

Now, most people would recommend that you put wet cardboard in the standard trash. However, you can recycle it with a little bit of preparation.

What does this mean? Well, it means that you are going to need to let your cardboard dry out before you add it to your recycling. Obviously, this is something that is going to be easier said than done. If you have thick cardboard that is drenched, then it may take over a week to dry. However, if you really want to recycle it, then you have no choice.

Under no circumstances should you allow cardboard that is wet to enter your recycling. As we said before, this is just going to end up causing problems for the recycling company.

In an ideal world, the cardboard wouldn’t be allowed to get wet in the first place. So, if you know the exact day that your recycling is being collected, then keep the cardboard indoors until that day. Only put it out a few hours before the recycling comes.

If it is raining, or it looks like it is going to rain, then don’t put it out at all. Instead, take the cardboard to the recycling center yourself. Sure, it is going to be a little bit of extra hassle to do this, but trust us, the recycling center is going to absolutely love you if you go to huge lengths to ensure that you are not going to be giving them wet cardboard!

If you have no choice but to leave the cardboard outside, then make sure that it is well-protected. Wrap it up in a biodegradable bag, or at least cover it with a tarpaulin of some description. The more protection you give it, the less chance it has of getting wet.

Are Cardboard Boxes Toxic?

Cardboard boxes do, in fact, contain toxic materials making them toxic. They contain pollutants like styrene, formaldehyde, and mineral oils that survive the recycling process. These chemicals can cause respiratory problems such as asthma or bronchitis, along with skin irritation.

What If the Cardboard is Dirty?

So, what about if your cardboard is dirty as opposed to wet?

For the most part, it can be recycled. However, if the wetness has caused mold to start to grow on the cardboard, it becomes unrecyclable. As a result, you will have no choice but to put it into your standard trash.

In addition to this, the cardboard cannot be put in the trash if it has grease stains on it. At this point, it is also almost impossible to recycle.

Can You Put Wet Cardboard in the Standard Trash?

You can. In fact, this is where most people will end up putting their wet cardboard. However, we urge you to avoid this if you absolutely can.

We know that most people probably do not want to have wet cardboard sticking around their home for weeks on end and this is perfectly understandable. However, if you do have space in your home, then please do it.

The last thing that we want to be doing is filling up landfills with something that could be recycled. Not only is this going to be bad for the environment where the wet cardboard ends up going, but it is also going to be awful because it ends up increasing the demand for cardboard producers to make more cardboard. This is also awful for the environment.


When cardboard becomes wet, it is almost impossible to recycle. Therefore, you will need to let it dry out first. If you put wet cardboard into the recycling anyway, then it will most likely cause all of the materials it’s in contact with to be placed in the trash and not recycled.