Green Building Supply uses machine to ‘eat’ cardboard | Southeast Iowa Union

FAIRFIELD – The Fairfield-based company Green Building Supply has a machine that converts cardboard boxes into reusable packing material.

The company has had the machine for about a year, and it’s already paid for itself by saving the company money on packing material. Ben Harris, the company’s logistics manager, said he remembers receiving a box from a company in Wisconsin about 18 months ago that had recycled cardboard as a packing material. Hard Box Making Machine

Green Building Supply uses machine to ‘eat’ cardboard | Southeast Iowa Union

“I had never seen it before, and I thought, ‘Wow. What is this?’ Harris said.

Harris did some research on using cardboard as a packing material and found the machine that makes it. The cost was about what Green Building Supply spends on packaging material in a year, so Harris thought it would be a good investment. Not only has it saved the company money on packaging material, but it’s also saved the company money because now it has a use for all its extra cardboard boxes and doesn’t have to pay someone to get rid of them.

“Ninety-eight to 99 percent of our cardboard goes through the machine,” Harris said. “There are some things that are too gummy or just don’t jive with it, so through experience we’ve learned not to put them through. But the vast majority of our cardboard does. Occasionally, a staple or tack will have to be removed, but tape and labels are fine.”

The user of the machine has to fold the cardboard flat before feeding it into the machine, where the cardboard is perforated and cut so that it can be stretched while remaining intact.

“The machine has a series of rotating knives that scores it and fans it out into almost a cardboard bubble wrap,” Harris said.

Harris said he hopes customers who receive the recycled cardboard with their products will reuse it, too.

“It’s a material that can be used as long as it’s viable,” he said. “And it’s better than any packing material we’ve used before. Bubble wrap deflates at altitude, and paper doesn’t hold up as well. This is the best.”

The machine is located at Green Building Supply’s warehouse at 108 N. Sixth St. in Fairfield. That’s where the company stores its bulk material, while most of its smaller stock is kept at the showroom location at 118 W. Burlington Ave.

Harris said customers have given good feedback on the new packing material. Company co-founder Joy Hirshberg said people even ask to bring their cardboard boxes to Green Building Supply’s warehouse so they can be recycled. Harris said they have so much cardboard coming in that they’ve never run out. There’s always cardboard left to process.

Company co-founder Joel Hirshberg stated in an email that the machine doesn’t use much labor, either, and that one hour of work makes enough packing material to last a week.

Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at

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Green Building Supply uses machine to ‘eat’ cardboard | Southeast Iowa Union

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