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OCC: Old Corrugated Containers or Cardboard

 by Sarah Maher,

The uptick in internet shopping is making way for a whole new market and recycling issue. If you think about the products you order online, what is the one thing they all have in common? That’s right, cardboard boxes (albeit every once in a while plastic bags) but, let’s focus on the cardboard or its industry name: Old Corrugated Containers (OCC). Nearly everything ordered on the internet is delivered in these boxes but that’s not the only place they are used. Grocery stores, clothing stores, even technology; Old Corrugated Containers are everywhere.

What is OCC?

OCC is the boxes, or packages, that you’ll often find used instead of normal cardboard, especially in your take-out boxes. The difference between OCC and cardboard containers is the composition of materials. OCC is typically two smooth layers with a corrugated piece in the center, while cardboard is comprised of one piece of heavy paper stock. Cardboard is most commonly used in food packaging such as cereal boxes while OCC is used in applications that need a more supportive structure. Both OCC and cardboard are products that can be recycled, so once you’re finished using this product, you may be asking yourself what to do with it and the best answer is you should recycle the containers.

What Happens to All of These Empty Boxes After the Goods Are Removed?

The US alone uses close to 75 million tons of paper and paperboard material every year and this number is growing due to the evolving world of e-commerce. The good news is that with the enormous growth in the use of OCC we are increasing the efficiency with our recycling processes as well. In fact, in 2015 the US recovered 92.9 percent of corrugated materials.


A Hopeful Future.

This is great news considering the US uses approximately 68 million trees per year contributing to paper’s title as the highest component of solid waste in landfills. According to the EPA, we save 17 trees for every ton of cardboard we recycle. Advancements in recycling are helping to increase that number through the sorting process. Increased material purity from the recycling process results in a higher percentage of recycled material that can be used to make the boxes.

Who Can Make A Difference?

General Kinematics is dedicated to making this process easier and more efficient with products such as the SXS SCREEN™ for OCC. GK vibratory equipment was developed using specially engineered screens to create the best separation. GK is always working to create cleaner materials in the sorting process but the recycling process starts with you.

How OCC Recycling Works.

When recycling your used boxes remember to remove foreign materials like Styrofoam, plastic, and food. Always flatten your boxes and place them in the recycling bin or compactor.

Curious about how GK can improve your OCC recycling system? Talk to our resource recovery experts today!