Online Shopping Is Up, Cardboard Recycling Is Down

According to a recent article in USA Today, US online shopping sales have climbed steadily the past five years. The surge in shipping has led to an increase in cardboard consumption as well.

This past year, however, American recycling rates for cardboard fell by 300,000 tons. Why are the recycling rates dropping? It turns out that residents may not be as good at recycling cardboard as retail stores.

One of the issues is that only about 60 percent of American residents have curbside recycling services to begin with. The other 40 percent either don’t have access to curbside services or choose not to have them.

Those who do have curbside recycling don’t always take the time to break down their cardboard properly for recycling. Another problem is that cardboard can become contaminated when not separated from the regular trash, or when contaminants get mixed in with a clean collection of cardboard. Now that China is no longer accepting contaminated recyclables, a bale of contaminated cardboard may end up in the landfill instead of a recycling facility.

Overall, industry experts estimate that residents recycle only 25 percent of their cardboard. If more boxes aren’t recycled, more trees will need to be cut down to make new ones.

So what can you do? In Truckee, cardboard can be collected curbside for free in recycling carts or blue bags. Separating cardboard from trash will help keep it clean to ensure it gets recycled. Residents can sign up to receive a blue recycling cart, available in Truckee neighborhoods beginning in October. Please note that cardboard left next to trash cans not in a container or blue bag will be charged a trash overage fee.

Free drop-off locations for cardboard recycling are available at Truckee Town Hall and the Nevada County Sheriff Station. A recycling dumpster is also available during summer months at Town Hall for mixed-recycling drop-off, including cardboard.

Cardboard dumpsters are available for commercial customers at a discounted rate. Contact Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal at (530) 583-7800 if interested.

Additionally, try to limit how much packaging you end up with in the first place. Reducing your use of materials is the most powerful step you can take. Then, whenever you do buy something with packaging, take the time to recycle everything you can, and recycle right.

Read more from USA Today.