Turning Cardboard into Energy?

Jan 17, 2011  3

Today's question: Has there been any research into using cardboard from the local businesses for energy production? At least one community in Alaska pays quite a bit of money to the local stores for their leftover cardboard, which is then used in the local electrical plant. I've been told it burns cleaner than coal and is readily available, as most box stores normally throw away or recycle large amounts of cardboard. Here in Whitehorse, Raven Recycling gets tons of cardboard.

Thanks for the question. Yes, Yukon Energy is currently looking at using waste – including cardboard – from the Whitehorse landfill to produce electricity. You can find more information about our Waste-to-Energy research here.


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by sr

The question specifically brought up purchasing cardboard from local businesses for use in burning for electricity.  The response said, ‘Yes, we are looking into using waste from the Whitehorse land fill.’  These are not the same thing.  Is Yukon Energy considering making arrangements with local business to intercept waste such as cardboard BEFORE it ends up at the landfill?  And is Yukon Energy working with Raven Recycle to get the ‘high grade’ waste, such as cardboard, so it can be used here for energy production instead of shipped south?


by Yukon Energy

The short answer is that at this point everything is on the table for discussion. We have spoken with Raven Recycling and other recycling and conservation groups about this issue on a number of occasions. We will continue to involve them in helping us to determine if using waste, including cardboard, to produce electricity is viable in Yukon, and what the best way would be to handle the waste (i.e. collect it before it goes to the landfill, collect it at the landfill, etc.).


by E.M.

I think it’s super important to weigh the energy value of burned cardboard against the value of the cardboard being recycled and turned into other paper products.  I’m not convinced that a unit of energy from burning a still useable commodity is worth it.

Mind you, I understand that paper is ultimately a renewable resource and the transportation of the cardboard shipped south to wherever Raven ships to has to be considered as well.

For other products like plastics, I think the gap between energy as a fuel, and value in the continued life cycle of the commodity would be much greater.