Cardboard Recycling: Baler Rental and Regular Collections

Enviro-Waste is a leading UK supplier of cardboard baling equipment - and we'll pay you to collect your baled cardboard for recycling!
Enviro-Waste is a leading UK supplier of cardboard baling equipment – and we’ll pay you to collect your baled cardboard for recycling!

It’s worth taking a few minutes to learn about recycling cardboard.
It is one of the most significant areas you can improve the sustainability of your organization’s waste disposal, and one of the easiest ways you can immediately reduce waste costs in your own business.
This information page from leading UK waste management company, Enviro-Waste, makes it all clear…


Cardboard Recycling FAQs

  • We have a lot of cardboard that needs collection right now: can you collect this from us and can we get paid for it?
    — YES as part of a regular recycling/collection contract – we arrange a service of regular collections of recyclable cardboard from UK business premises.Please phone for urgent pickups of baled cardboard. If you have large quantities of scrap cardboard on site that is not yet compacted/baled, we’ll help you get set up with the right equipment first.
  • Can we rent or buy a cardboard baler from you?
    — YES we supply new and refurbished balers of a wide variety of sizes and brands; this page contains general information and for equipment specifics and quotes simply pick up the phone to speak to Enviro-Waste.
  • What type of cardboard baler do we need?
    — We will advise you and visit your site. We will ensure you get exactly the right equipment, and because we are a market-leading waste management solution provider, we can also advise you on other equipment such as general waste compactors and environmentally friendly food waste disposal.
  • Do we produce enough cardboard to make money selling it for recycling?
    — Usually commercial facilities will be surprised by how much cardboard they are generating: if it is mixed into general waste it may be hard to assess. We can help you make estimates about the ROI from getting a cardboard baler, selling baled cardboard for recycling, and how much potentially you will save by reducing your general waste collection costs.

Cardboard bulks out your rubbish and wastes money

a pile of cardboard boxes by a bin
Look in any commercial bin and you will usually find that the bulk of the waste comes from un-compacted cardboard. This bin was “full” until we pulled out this cardboard.

This is the client's bin AFTER we emptied the cardboard on the top: there is still more cardboard in there. This could all be recycled and the general waste disposal costs slashed.
This is the client’s bin AFTER we emptied the cardboard in the first photo: it is now less than half full and there is still more cardboard in there. If the cardboard was recycled in a separate stream, the general waste disposal costs would be slashed.

We are in the 21st Century and everyone knows it is important for commercial organizations to have responsible and sustainable waste disposal practices. Yet wherever you look, businesses are simply throwing away cardboard mixed into general waste bins, rubbish compactors, or just skips!

What makes this even more staggering is that it is also well known that recycling mills will pay quite attractive sums of money for recyclable cardboard. By failing to recycle cardboard, businesses are almost literally throwing away money.

Ejecting a finished bale of cardboard.
Standard baled cardboard can be sold for £50 a ton: but waste carriers might not tell you

The main problem is that commercial waste carriers are not telling you about better ways of dealing with your waste, and in particular your cardboard.

This is because the companies who collect waste from commercial facilities charge based on volume, number of bins, and frequency of collection. Obviously more waste – and more bulky light waste – is good news for them.

Another reason waste carriers may not volunteer information about cardboard recycling is that they are separating your waste after collecting it, and so they are the ones making profit by selling your cardboard for recycling. We think you should be the ones to make the profit… and save on your collection costs as well.

Example calculation

To show how quickly selling cardboard can turn a profit, let’s look at a an example of a shopping centre:

The centre produces between 2-10 bales of compressed cardboard a week.
Two bales = 1 ton.
So the shop is producing on average 5 tons of cardboard bales each week.
At £75 per ton, this means the centre will be paid £375 per week for this cardboard (collected).

For this volume of cardboard a good baler to rent would cost around £58.00 P/week including annual servicing.

This means the centre will be making around £317 profit per week on selling the cardboard net of the equipment costs. This revenue stream is realized immediately because the cardboard waste is already being generated every day and can be turned into recyclable bales as soon as the equipment is in place.

The only proviso is that the cardboard bales must be kept dry and are only 96% cardboard. (Not paper or plastic)

The financial incentive is not just the selling of the cardboard: it’s the saving on your waste collection bills.

Since your general waste volume will be reduced substantially by separating out your cardboard, you will realize significant savings on your normal bin collections.

After setting up your cardboard baling progress, you are advised to keep an eye on your bins to ensure that you still need that many, and you are not paying your carrier to collect almost-empty bins!

Cardboard recycling equipment: choose the right solution

Cardboard balers come in a wide variety of sizes and specifications. For example this one is probably too big for most requirements! We will recommend the right one that matches your facility and needs.
Cardboard balers come in a wide variety of sizes and specifications. We will recommend the right one that matches your facility and needs.

The key bit of equipment you need to get set up with is a cardboard baler, otherwise known as a cardboard compactor.

A cardboard baler uses many tons of force to squash the material flat and make it economical to store and transport in standard cubic sizes. Cardboard baling equipment is designed to be safe and easy to use within commercial facilities.

This is a completely different to just throwing away cardboard into mixed waste in a general rubbish compactor. Cardboard balers produce standard size bales of cardboard which are immediately a sellable commodity – i.e. you get paid when someone picks it up –  instead of a waste liability that costs you money to dispose of.

Getting paid for your cardboard bales to go off to recycling, we’re sure you’d agree, makes more sense than paying for someone to take it away as rubbish!

Most cardboard balers in use in the UK, apart from in the largest plants, are vertical balers. Front-loading vertical cardboard balers are often referred to as manual balers because you load little by little, activating each compression cycle, and tying off by hand. This is in contrast to the largest industrial machines which can be very automated.

The main types of cardboard baler you will see are classified as “Mill Size” (i.e. large), midi, and mini:

Mill Size Baler
Mill Size Baler

Midi Baler
Midi Baler

Mini Baler
Mini Baler

The choice of baler depends primarily on the size of cardboard boxes you are most commonly flattening as waste, and the overall volume of waste you are producing. Most cardboard balers are run regularly so that your team can drop waste cardboard in and flatten in a cycle each time, continuously adding over a day or several days until it is full and the bale can be ejected.

Keep it dry!
Balers can be situated indoors or outdoors. If outdoors the machinery should be kept under shelter. Most importantly, when baling cardboard do not let it get wet – for example store the finished bales indoors or under a tarp.

animated gif of a man standing in a skip trying to tread down a pile of cardboard
Cardboard balers reduce the volume of the waste by as much as 90% under many tons of pressure: it’s not something you can achieve just by standing on it!

When discussing the placement of your baler you need to take into account safety, working space, convenient walking paths, access for forklift or pallet truck, and electrical supply. We will assist you with the right equipment selection and install your baler correctly for you.

Cardboard compactor: buy or hire?

In general, hiring the equipment makes most sense for the majority of commercial facilities. With NO up front capital expenditure you immediately realize the revenue of selling recyclable cardboard, and the savings of reducing your general waste volumes.

Hiring equipment also gives you greater flexibility in terms of scaling up, moving site, and modernizing when your processes need more advanced kit.

Renting a cardboard baler from Enviro-Waste costs from £2,500 pa for a large machine and from £1,200 pa for a smaller one. There are no extra installation fees. We charge a fixed rate annual maintenance charge per facility. All the fees will be clear for you to decide on in advance: no hidden charges further down the line.

Most importantly, we are the ONLY Company in the UK that rents the baler AND buys all your cardboard in one easy package.  A One stop Shop.

So how much money is it worth?

Typically you can estimate that you will get about £40 – £60 per ton of dry baled cardboard.

When working with Enviro-Waste this price includes collection: you can use this figure as a ready reckoner to see how much value you could be retrieving from your waste.

The amount cardboard is worth does depend on market factors. The prices fluctuate usually between £45-60 per ton depending on factors like the time of year, volumes, and location. But we recommend you don’t waste your time on case-by-case negotiation: for normal volumes of waste, particularly where your own volumes might fluctuate a bit from month to month, it is easier just to work with your carrier (in this case Enviro-Waste) at a predictable guaranteed price.

When setting you up with your baler(s) we will discuss and confirm the guaranteed price we will pay for your cardboard waste.

Is baling up cardboard a hassle?

A warehouse worker shifts cardboard bales on a palette using a powered truck
Once your cardboard is tightly baled it is easy to move and store for collection.
Image: (CC BY 2.0) Walmart,

Is it a hassle? There are three parts of this question to consider:

  • “is it difficult getting a cardboard baler in place and maintaining it?”
    – the answer is no, if you get your baler installed by Enviro-Waste we professionally take care of the whole installation as well as dealing with any maintenance and inspection requirements.
  • “does baling up cardboard generate hard work for the team?”
    – not really because firstly they have to throw the cardboard away somewhere, so why not in the proper baler rather than a tip or mixed rubbish compactor… and secondly our cardboard baler equipment can be operated by anybody
    – the work involved in moving cardboard bales is no different to any other palette movement around your warehouse areas, and we will advise you on the safety considerations of how to store cardboard bales
  • “is it hard to get rid of the cardboard bales?”
    – no, it is easy because once we get you set up with the baler, we will also take care of regular collections: this will be based on your volume – usually cardboard bales are collected when you have about 5 tons stacked up;
    – when we collect your cardboard bales we will report back to you on the weights/quantities in paperwork that is useful for your accountants, and send a cheque for the value so you don’t have to spend any time negotiating for every collection.

Wire or strapping?

If you have not used a cardboard baler before, you may be wondering about how they get tightly tied up. First of all, you need metal baler wire for the larger sized bales, and the smaller balers take plastic strapping, i.e. baler tape.
Depending on the machine, you will need to feed the wire/strap around the bale after it is full and the bale is finished compacting, or you may have to set up the wire when starting each new load.
Once you’ve been shown how to do it with your particular equipment, you’ll see it is easy.
You don’t need lots of strength to tighten the wire or strap, because the cardboard expands a bit when it is no longer under the weight of the compactor, hence it tightens up as it is ejected.
Enviro-Waste has a consumables service to help you keep in stock of vital waste disposal supplies, including baler wire and strapping, and consumables like waste sacks.

Other questions about cardboard recycling

  • “are all types of cardboard OK to recycle?”
    – generally the answer is yes as long as it is dry
  • “will our current waste removal company allow us to separate off cardboard and sell it?”
    – it is your waste and your decision: which do you want, to pay them to take it away and then they sell it, or you to gain the value back and reduce your general disposal costs! 🙂
  • “can we compact other waste in the cardboard baler?”
    – we will advise you about this according to the equipment: if you have a lot of polystyrene waste for example we can provide equipment for this; Enviro-Waste also provide recycling machinery for glass and metal waste.
Further information:

a large orange waste bin labelled Commingled Waste
Anywhere your facility is throwing away cardboard in mixed waste, you’re throwing away money.