Cardboard is a generic term for heavy-duty paper-based products having greater thickness and superior durability or other specific mechanical attributes to paper; such as foldability, rigidity and impact resistance. The construction can range from a thick sheet known as paperboard to corrugated fiberboard which is made of multiple corrugated and flat layers.
Despite widespread general use in English and French, the term cardboard is deprecated in commerce and industry as not adequately defining a specific product. Material producers, container manufacturers,packaging engineers, and standards organizations, use more specific terminology.
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.
Paperboard is a paper-based material, usually more than about ten mils (0.010 inches (0.25 mm)) thick. It is often used for folding cartons, set-up boxes, carded packaging, etc. Configurations of paperboard include:
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.
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". Cardboard can be recycled for industrial or domestic use. For example, cardboard may be composted or shredded for animal bedding.
The term has been used since at least 1848, when Anne Brontë mentioned it in her novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. 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 development marked the origin of the cereal box, though in modern times the sealed bag is plastic and is kept inside the box. The Kieckhefer Container Company, run by John W. Kieckhefer, was another early American packaging industry pioneer. It excelled in the use of fibre shipping containers, particularly the paper milk carton.