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​Extending the Life of Cardboard with ADM Specialty Starches

During the holiday season, many of us are excited to find more packages arriving on our doorsteps. Whether buying for others, or ourselves, the question remains—what will you do with the box it came in? Ideally, you recycle it. ADM specialty starches can make recycling of used cardboard into new cardboard material possible, multiple times over. The recycled new cardboard is more environmentally sustainable, and ready to be used for packaging again and again.

“For every ton of recycled cardboard, you will save 15 to 20 trees,” said Baljit Ghotra, ADM vice president of food research. “That’s why it makes sense to recycle, and to recycle more often. You can do just that by adding ADM specialty starches.”

During the recycling process, cardboard material, which consists of used, short fibers, loses strength. ADM’s naturally-sourced specialty starches work by changing the physical chemistry in the cardboard-making process. When added to recycled material, our positively-charged, or “cationic,” starches attract the negatively-charged recycled fibers, strengthening their bond. This improves the durability and strength of the cardboard, increasing the number of times the material may be recycled. Adding ADM’s specialty starches also improves drainage and pressing in papermaking, which improves wastewater quality.

“We’re confident using our specialty starches offers a more sustainable solution,” Ghotra said. “By adding ADM starch made from corn, we’re able to extend the life of a typical cardboard box.” In the U.S., over 90% of all products are shipped in cardboard boxes, which is about 400 billion square feet of cardboard. More than half of the cardboard collected is recycled to make new cardboard boxes. And every pound recycled adds up. By recycling one ton of cardboard, it frees up nine cubic yards of landfill space. Learn more about ADM’s specialty starches: https://www.adm.com/products-services/industrials/starches.

ADM's Cationic Starch, up close