Living Columns & Blogs

What's the difference between corrugated cardboard and paperboard and other recycling FAQs

We have received a bunch of recycling questions lately, so I thought it was time for another FAQ column. Enjoy!

Q: Are the coverings for yogurt and cat food containers (one side is aluminum foil) recyclable as foil?

A: Yes, you can recycle these along with steel and aluminum cans.

Q: How do I properly dispose of fluorescent tubes?

A: Large fluorescent lighting tubes generated in the household may be disposed of with regular trash. For the safety of the hauler, please make sure the tube is placed in plain sight so the hauler may safely handle it. Fluorescent tubes are also accepted for recycling at our annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event held each spring.

Q: What other plastic bag types can be recycled with the grocery, bread and shopping bags at the grocery stores?

A: Grocery stores accept many types of plastic bags, film and wrap for recycling. Acceptable items include but are not limited to: newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, bread bags, produce bags, food storage bags, plastic cereal box liners, bubble wrap, air pillows and product wrap (used on paper towels, diapers, bathroom tissue, water bottles, etc.). Many grocery stores have a sign above their plastic bag/film recycling bin to explain proper film recycling. It is important to note that all plastic bags, film and wrap must be clean and dry before recycling.

Q: Can we recycle the pumps that come on soap bottles, lotions, etc.?

A: Yes, leave the pump right on the plastic bottle and put it in your recycling bin.

Q: Can the spiral containers that sugar and creamer come in be recycled with metal cans; and do the plastic lids need to be removed?

A: Yes, we accept “spiral cans” in our recycling program. Spiral cans have a thin cardboard body with a metal bottom and/or a metal rim on the top. Examples of spiral cans include: coffee cans, lemonade mix cans, Pringles potato chip cans, peanut cans, etc. These cans may be placed in your curbside recycling bin or brought to any of our recycling drop off locations and placed in the compartment labeled for “metal cans.” It is helpful to us if the plastic lids are removed.

Q: What is the difference between corrugated cardboard and paperboard?

A: Corrugated cardboard is made up of several layers with a ribbed center and paper on both sides. It is used for packaging items like furniture and appliances due to its heavy duty design. Corrugated cardboard should be flattened and placed next to or under curbside recycling bins or recycled at designated containers labeled for corrugated cardboard.

Alternatively, paperboard is a single layer pressed boxboard. Examples of paperboard include cereal boxes, tissue boxes and cake mix boxes. Paperboard should be bagged or bundled with all other mixed paper and placed inside your curbside bin. Paperboard can also be placed in a blue cart labeled for mixed paper or brought to a local recycling drop off container labeled for mixed paper.

Thanks for recycling!

Amy Schirf is education coordinator for the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority. Contact her at aschirf@centrecounty