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"Amazon Effect" adds to cardboard clutter

Cardboard valuable if not mixed with garbage
Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 20:19:01-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Online shopping is taking over for Christmas -- and beyond.
And now... it's causing something called the Amazon effect.
     
The effect could be filling up landfills and draining city budgets.

The recycling contractor for the City of Tucson is full of cardboard.  A few days ago, some of that might have shown up on your porch as you took those holiday deliveries.  Now that booming package delivery business is an opportunity for the recycling world but in some cases it's an opportunity lost.

They call it the Amazon Effect.  So many people are getting their goods in an Amazon box that the old boxes are a big part of the waste stream.  
      
Tucson's recycling center takes in and sorts 25 tons of all sorts of waste every hour.
       
High demand for new boxes should help the city recover a good chunk of cash by selling old cardboard to recycle into new boxes.
       
But there's a problem: you.

Brett Beitzel manages Republic Recycling Services. He says, “When residents recycle they very often contaminate that recycling, by putting in trash, or something they don't intend.  Even pizza boxes with grease or food.  Things like that in the recycling can be really bad for corrugated cardboard."        

Clean cardboard gets a trip to recyclers in China.
        
Dirty cardboard gets a trip to the landfill and fills up space the city needs for much nastier garbage.
        
Instead of making money, it costs money---and that's your money.

Sherri Ludlam is a scientist with City of Tucson Environmental Services. She says, “You're paying your regular monthly garbage bills and that goes for your weekly pick-up, both recycling and garbage and long-term, we've got to pay for this landfill, to care for this landfill in perpetuity.  From now until forever we'll be taking care of this landfill. You're going to help us do that."
        
Waste managers say they see the Amazon Effect all over the country and it's getting worse-- because businesses good about keeping cardboard separate and clean are cutting their cardboard use. That means more comes from careless consumers who wreck it's recycling value.