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Why more online spending could cause a cardboard overload

All those holiday packages could add up to a ton of cardboard in recycling facilities. Here's how to recycle properly.
Credit: Barbara Bingley

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — According to Adobe Analytics, Americans spent $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday last year. This year, that number is expected to rise between 15% to 35%. With all those packages out for delivery, waste and recycling facilities expect more cardboard disposal than ever.  

"Over the past 10 years or so... people have started to buy more items from home," said David Biderman, the executive director of Solid Waste Association of North America. "We’re seeing a lot more cardboard show up in residential recycling. In the waste sector, it’s known as the ‘Amazon Effect.'" 

Biderman said this holiday season, more than ever, it’s important to recycle properly.

"When you get a box from an e-commerce retailer, make sure that only recycling components of that box are placed in you recycling container," he said.

Biderman said that’s typically cardboard only. Styrofoam, plastic films and any other flimsy materials are items to avoid throwing in recycling bin. Those materials make it especially difficult to manage once they hit the recycling facility.

"If you put those in your bin, you risk contaminating the good stuff," Biderman said. "So please recycle right. 

Republic Services said tape and labels are OK to leave on boxes. They also noted that recycling should always stay separated and loose- never bag or box your recyclables before placing them in the bin.

And last but not least- breaking down boxes and making sure they are covered in a recycle bin is important. If cardboard is exposed to rain and gets wet, it can mold and could end up in the landfill.


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