A short list of uses we've found so far:
sustainable packaging supplies
garden and farm mulch
composting ingredient for vermicomposting
Even a makeshift nap pad for long work days...
Once the cardboard is cleaned - free of tape, staples and strings - we shred it. The shredding process creates a flexible, perforated mat. Further processing can turn the cardboard into tiny, confetti-like pieces.
Sustainable Packaging: The shredding process makes a piece of cardboard, precisely cross-cut, which can stretch, roll, fold and be cut into any size you want with a pair of heavy-duty scissors. These mats can be cut into a custom width - from a 1 to 16 inches - and the length varies depending on the input cardboard. For some clients, we offer custom sizing services where we will cut small batches of this packaging material into specific dimensions based on the customer's needs. Several of our customers have found that the use of this material in their process saves time and labor cost.
The confetti material is being successfully used as a compostable void fill, providing a useful alternative to packing peanuts or buffer bags. They're perfect for filling spaces in a package which might tumble or shift during shipping. For many e-commerce traders, the weight of your outgoing packages is a crucial consideration. With cardboard packaging, it can be a trade-off; cardboard is often denser and heavier than plastic. However, as sustainability becomes more and more important, it's worth doing the math for yourself, your branding and your customers especially as single-use plastic bans become more commonplace. Mulch and Composting:
Here in Hawaii, cardboard is often used as a mulching to kill invasive plant species or prevent weeds from growing. Cardboard breaks down easily into soil and provides an organic weed cover.
However, several growers (in personal interviews) noted that unperforated cardboard doesn't easily absorb water. When stacked together, it can also compress and form a "cake" which takes much longer to break down. Processed cardboard has perforations which allow it to let water through, creates surface area for beneficial insects and microbes to inhabit and prevents "caking." These same properties are what can make shredded cardboard a valuable addition for composters, specifically composters using worms in a process otherwise known as vermicompost. This particular process may not be well suited for large scale composters, yet in Hawaii's context where places are distributed over very different geographies and systems aren't setup to encourage the use of resources in place, it works just as well. In Conclusion: This process is great for transforming cardboard into a useful product for specific uses. It is not a fix-all to the larger problem of forestry consumption in a rapidly heating and changing world. It's not even a total fix for the island of Hawaii. It is a start, though.