How much is a cardboard bale worth?

14 November 2022 Shares

Home Cardboard recycling How much is a cardboard bale worth?

By 14 November 2022 Shares

How much is a cardboard bale worth?

The economical and ecological value of baling cardboard
Author: Brent Nijssen

Bales of cardboard are valuable secondary raw materials for new cardboard and are worth money on the world market for wood fiber products. The value or price of a bale of cardboard can fluctuate considerably. A metric ton of cardboard, for example, fluctuated roughly between $20 and $210 in the past five years in the U.S.

Thus, an average cardboard bale of around 660 lbs/300 kg has been worth between $6 and $63 in recent years. In addition to the revenues from the material, there are also cost savings and environmental benefits linked to the baling of cardboard, such as:

Cost-saving benefits of cardboard baling & recycling

  1. Savings on waste hauling cost
  2. Reduced transport cost
  3. Floor-space savings
  4. A reduction in labour cost

Environmental benefits of cardboard baling & recycling

  1. Improving recycling percentages
  2. Decreased CO2 output
  3. Reduced water consumption
  4. Diminished energy usage
  5. Lowered oil consumption

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Every month helps hundreds of businesses worldwide finding the right recycling machine.




The price of a cardboard bale

The price you get for cardboard or the cost of hauling a cardboard bale depends on a multitude of factors.


The first and most important one is the price paper mills are willing to pay for cardboard at a specific date. This price gets determined by supply and demand and can vary per region.

Also, the quality of the cardboard material is an important factor for calculating its value. Clean corrugated cardboard has more value than contaminated cardboard.

Check Current Cardboard Recycling prices for a rough estimate of the current market prices.

Secondly, paper mills rarely buy cardboard directly from e-commerce or logistic businesses but buy via paper recycling companies because they fulfill a critical decontamination and transport function.

Next to that, paper recycling companies can steadily deliver large quantities of cardboard to paper mills at once. For these functions, they need a piece of the margin to recover the operating costs.

A business that sells cardboard bales via recycling companies will therefore get a lower price than paper mills are willing to pay for the material.

Revenue/costs cardboard = Regional price of cardboard – (Transport costs + Decontamination costs + Service costs)

Unfortunately, that can mean that in some periods recycling companies will charge you for picking up the cardboard bales.

Nevertheless, we argue that baling cardboard will always benefit your business because it saves costs on multiple other fronts.

Cost-saving benefits of baling cardboard

The most substantial cost related to cardboard waste for businesses consist of hauling costs. These hauling costs can get diminished by up to 80% – 90% by investing in a baler machine because the volume of cardboard gets reduced by the same 80% – 90%.

Example hauling cost: The average cost of a pick-up for a 6-yard dumpster is between $95 – $275 in the U.S. If your company has a pick-up two times a week for cardboard, then your yearly total cost for hauling will be between $9,880 – $28,600.

By bailing your cardboard it reduces this volume by 80-90%. Making your potential annual savings of baling cardboard between $7.900  – $25,740.


Example transport savings: If you always transported your cardboard waste to a recycling facility yourself. Then you will reduce the number of trips by the same 80-90% (if you are not exceeding the maximum payload). Improving the efficiency of your organization.

Example internal logistic savings: Baling cardboard also comes with internal logistical cost savings because cardboard bales require less floor space, the reason is that cardboard balers reduce volume and the bales themselves are easily stackable.

Packaging cost savings: Another way to reduce cardboard waste is to repurpose it as packaging material by using a cardboard shredder. Which lowers your hauling cost and reduces the cost of packaging your goods.

Companies repeatedly underline that their warehouses are more organized and neat after buying a cardboard baler requiring less time to manage the warehouse. Showing the hidden value of baling cardboard.

Environmental benefits of cardboard recycling

Separating cardboard from other material streams creates extensive environmental benefits.

Cardboard bales sold to recycling companies, lower the chance it ends up in landfill sites or energy generation by incineration.

Material Amount Energy savings Oil savings Water savings
Cardboard 1 tonne/ 2,204 lbs 4,200 kWh 454 gallons 8453 gallons

According to the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR, 2018) in comparison to using virgin (new) cardboard.

Overall the worth of baling cardboard translates into a significant reduction of your company’s environmental footprint and significant cost-savings for your organization.

Check our baler categories:

Every month helps hundreds of businesses worldwide finding the right recycling machine.




Cardboard recycling advice

What can your business do to improve the reduction, reuse, and recycling of cardboard? Read our Cardboard Recycling Guide.

Recycling solutions for warehouses