Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


James L. Hanson



Beneficial Reuse of Corrugated Paperboard in Civil Engineering Applications

Gregory Michael Stone

An investigation was conducted to explore the potential for reuse of corrugated paperboard. Corrugated paperboard represents a large fraction of the municipal solid waste generated and discarded in the United States. Alternative applications for reuse can provide a significant benefit by reducing the volume of waste being disposed and by reducing the use of raw materials. Four civil engineering applications were examined for potential beneficial reuse of corrugated paperboard: slurry trench construction, vertical drilling, directional drilling, and controlled low strength materials (CLSM).

For the purpose of this project, corrugated paperboard was pulped and added to bentonite slurry or CLSM mixtures. Bentonite slurry mixtures were tested for viscosity, density, filtrate loss, and permeability. The behavior of the bentonite slurries was greatly influenced by interaction and interlocking of corrugate fibers; in general resulting in increased viscosity, filtrate loss, and permeability and decreased density. CLSM mixtures were tested for flow consistency, unit weight, air content, and compressive strength. CLSM mixtures prepared with corrugated paperboard showed an increased water demand due to high absorption of the corrugate. The higher water content was a significant factor contributing to decreased unit weight and compressive strength. CLSM mixtures containing corrugated paperboard also exhibited increased air contents, possibly due to entrapment of air within the corrugate pulp.

Corrugated paperboard was used to successfully replace up to 27% of bentonite for slurry trench applications, 60% of bentonite for vertical drilling applications, and 59% of bentonite for directional drilling applications while maintaining acceptable engineering properties. For CLSM mixtures up to 1% of fine aggregate was replaced with corrugated paperboard while maintaining satisfactory engineering properties.

Incorporation of corrugated paper board into bentonite slurry, CLSM, and drilling fluid applications provides a viable option for beneficial reuse.