My family loves online shopping. My wife and I both work and have two young kids. The last thing we want to do – or have time for – is going to the store. Seemingly every day, we receive packages of diapers, gifts, household supplies and clothes. We even do grocery shopping online.
The result? Colossal cardboard piles.
While some of the larger boxes become building blocks or crayon canvasses, the majority get flattened and placed in our recycling cart. I’m becoming a recycling cart Tetris expert. (Pro Recycling Tip: keep a box cutter near your recycling cart, but safely out of reach of children).
With as many boxes as my family expends, it’s no surprise that cardboard recycling numbers have increased dramatically in the past two decades. Since 1995, the amount of cardboard recovered for recycling has increased by more than 50 percent, according to the American Forest & Paper Association.
Rumpke has witnessed similar trends. Take our Cincinnati recycling facility, for example. Cardboard made up about 5 percent of our recycling volume from residential and commercial programs in 2010, and we’re approaching 17 percent in 2016.
Granted, the makeup of our material depends on how much other stuff we bring in for recycling, and recently we’ve seen a steep decline in newspaper. However, it’s staggering to see spikes like this from a single material.
Despite the jumps in recycling, it’s estimated that more than 40 percent of material entering U.S. landfills is paper-based, including cardboard. These items are easily recycled and could save landfill space while preserving valuable natural resources.
So if you’re like me, make the most of your spoils from online shopping and make your recycling count.
- Recycle the boxes, paper packing and paper bags
- Keep the following out of your recycling: bubble wrap, packing peanuts, plastic air pillows and Styrofoam (or check with your local mail center or solid waste district for alternate options)
About the author: Jonathan Kissell is the communications manager for Rumpke Waste & Recycling. (NOTE: The family featured in the video is not the Kissell family.)