‘Amazon effect’ overwhelms recycling centers after holiday season

Cardboard boxes left behind after the holiday season have gone from the doorstep to the dump.

An increase in online shopping has resulted in an abundance of gift boxes that pile up at the Lee County Solid Waste Recycling Center.

“We have about 1,200 tons on the floor today. So, you can see we’re almost to the ceiling … this reflects what’s going on in society,” said Molly Schweers, Lee County solid waste coordinator.

Schweers calls the overwhelming issue the “Amazon Effect” as more boxes continue to pile up at the recycling center.

Amazon, the leader in online shopping, said it shipped more than five billion items for Prime members in 2017, according to CBS News.

“You are seeing the Amazon effect right here,” Schweers said. “On a normal given week, every day we’re getting 250 to 300 tons of recyclable material. Right now, we’re getting 425 tons a day.”

In the U.S. alone, Amazon used 6,000 trucks and 32 planes to get packages to its Prime members last year, according to CBS News. 

The effect has caused a need for more labor and new ways to process the cardboard.

“We are having to make accommodations, equipment accommodations,” Schweers said. “We’re seeing changes industry-wide to reflect the Amazon effect.”

It will take until April to get back to normal levels of recycling items, according to Schweers.

Reporter:John-Carlos Estrada
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