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SLO County waste managers prepare for influx of trash created by holiday shopping shipments

Posted at 5:56 AM, Dec 04, 2019

As the Cyber Monday deals consumers ordered this week begin to arrive, San Luis Obispo County waste managers brace for a massive increase in trash.

Amazon just announced it had a record day of sales on Monday, fulfilling millions of orders. The items shipped to homes across the country from Amazon and other online retailers are typically delivered decked out in plastic wrap, paper, and cardboard boxes.

Cold Canyon Landfill Manager Jon Ryan said the holiday season sees a 10 percent increase in recycling at his facility in San Luis Obispo.

But County waste managers said that also means more shipping materials destined for the dump.

"Packaging inside those boxes, the plastic and puffy bags, the padding," SLO County Integrated Waste Management Dir. Patti Toews said. "All that stuff is not recyclable, once again not recyclable. It's important you put that stuff in the garbage and if you don't like putting it in the garbage, don't bring it into your house in the first place."

Toews said the industry has been bogged down due to a recent trend in what she calls "wish-cycling," which is when people mix non-recyclable items into recycling containers because they are "wishful" that it can be recycled.

That lack of education harms the industry, Toews said.

"All that stuff has to go in the garbage, it's not recyclable, no matter how much you want it to be recyclable, it's really garbage," Toews said. "All that stuff gets wrapped up in the recycling center sorting system and shuts down the system."

The bubble padding, plastic wrap, and plastic packaging is not recyclable.

Toews suggests consumers consider giving a gift card or intentionally shopping at retailers that do not use non-recyclable materials.

A Stanford University study finds Americans produce about 25 percent more garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, which equates to about 1 million tons of additional garbage each week.