For other uses, see Cardboard (disambiguation).
Tubes made of cardboard
Corrugated cardboard

Cardboard is a generic term for a heavy-duty paper of various strengths, ranging from a simple arrangement of a single thick sheet of paper to complex configurations featuring multiple corrugated and uncorrugated layers.

Despite widespread use in general English and French,[1][2] the term is deprecated in business and industry.[3] Material producers, container manufacturers,[4] packaging engineers,[5] and standards organizations,[6] try to use more specific terminology. There is still no complete and uniform usage. Often the term "cardboard" is avoided because it does not define any particular material.


The term has been used since at least as early as 1848, when Anne Brontë mentioned it in her novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.[7] The Kellogg brothers first used paperboard cartons to hold their flaked corn cereal, and later, when they began marketing it to the general public, a heat-sealed bag of wax paper was wrapped around the outside of the box and printed with their brand name. This marked the origin of the cereal box, though in modern times the sealed bag is plastic and is kept inside the box rather than outside. Another early American packaging industry pioneer was the Kieckhefer Container Company, run by John W. Kieckhefer, which excelled in the use of fibre shipping containers, which especially included the paper milk carton.


Various card stocks

Main article: Card stock

Various types of cards are available, which may be called "cardboard". Included are: thick paper (of various types) or pasteboard used for business cards, aperture cards, postcards, playing cards, catalog covers, binder's board for bookbinding, scrapbooking, and other uses which require higher durability than regular paper.


Main article: Paperboard

Paperboard is a paper-based material, usually more than about ten mils (0.010 inches (0.25 mm)) in thickness. It is often used for folding cartons, set-up boxes, carded packaging, etc. Configurations of paperboard include:

Modernly, materials falling under these names may be made without using any actual paper.

Corrugated fiberboard

Main article: Corrugated fiberboard

Corrugated fiberboard is a combination of paperboards, usually two flat liners and one inner fluted corrugated medium. It is often used for making corrugated boxes for shipping or storing products. This type of cardboard is also used by artists as original material for sculpting.[8][9]


Most types of "cardboard" are recyclable. Boards that are laminates, wax coated, or treated for wet-strength are often more difficult to recycle. Clean cardboard (i.e. cardboard that has not been subject to chemical coatings) "is usually worth recovering, although often the difference between the value it realizes and the cost of recovery is marginal".[10] Cardboard can be recycled industrially, or for home uses. For example, cardboard may be composted or shredded for animal bedding.[11]

See also

Look up cardboard in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


  1. Walter Soroka, Illustrated Glossary of Packaging Terminology, p. 154
  2. What is Corrugated?. Fibre Box Association.
  3. Soroka, W. Illustrated Glossary of Packaging Terminology (Second ed.). Institute of Packaging Professionals.
  4. D996 Standard Terminology of Packaging, and Distribution Environments. ASTM International. 2004.
  5. "cardboard". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. AGR Manser, Alan Keeling, Practical Handbook of Processing and Recycling Municipal Waste (1996), p. 298, 8.1.2.
  9. Nicky Scott, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: An Easy Household Guide (2007), p. 31.
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