The first full week of the new year is prime time for the removal of detritus left over from the holiday season, and area transfer and recycling centers, landfills and departments of public works are seeing an increase in the disposal of discarded cardboard boxes and Christmas trees.
Gary Hartmann, the district manager for the Sierra Processing material recovery facility in Albany, said his facility has seen a spike in the arrival of corrugated cardboard in recent days.
While Hartmann said the busy season for cardboard disposal really begins just after Thanksgiving as holiday shopping begins, this year there’s been a bigger increase fueled by a rise in online shopping. Financial analysts forecasted an increase of 33% in online sales during the 2020 holiday season.
“We’ve seen a large increase in online orders, so we’re getting Amazon boxes and other deliveries, all that corrugated cardboard,” Hartmann said. “We’re seeing more. Volume-wise, we’re seeing more cardboard, and as a percentage we’re seeing more cardboard.”
Hartmann attributed the higher percentage of cardboard at his facility not only to the increase in online sales, but a reduction in paper brought on by a greater preponderance of online-based advertising.
As gift boxes are disposed of, so too are the Christmas trees they sat under a couple weeks ago. Municipalities throughout the Capital Region have different methods of helping residents dispose of their trees in the post-Christmas weeks.
Schenectady Commissioner of General Services Paul Lafond said the city was in the midst of the same process it’s used for years.
Homeowners can leave their discarded wood trees — no artificial trees allowed — outside in their normal garbage pickup location, and the trees are collected on the normal trash day by the same brush pickup truck the city uses to pick up leaf bags and bundled trees and branches during peak yard cleaning season.
The discarded trees are picked up, crushed and then transported to the Schenectady County Yard Waste Composting Facility and Resident Recycling Facility in Glenville to be composted.
“It’s nothing extraordinary, but it is a service that the city provides,” Lafond said. “It’s curbside, it’s included in the normal garbage fees. There’s no extra fees associated with the yard waste bags or anything like that. It’s all included.”
Lafond expects tree pickup to go on for “a couple more weeks” as the final holdouts dispose of their trees.
“Some people like to keep their trees up a little longer — though, there’s always a worry about safety with real trees, since they dry out,” he said. “We’ll continue to pick up, and then we’ll stop and usually around April 1 we start our yard waste collection again with normal trash collection as people are raking and cleaning their yards.”
While there’s been an increase in the amount of some post-holiday material, Hartmann said that there’s also been a decrease in another area. Normal recycling at the facility hasn’t experienced its usual post-Christmas and New Year’s spike, a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic curtailing large-scale holiday parties and gatherings that produce large-scale refuse.
“In a normal year, our [recycling] volume is actually higher,” Hartmann said. “Our corrugated [cardboard] is higher, but the normal recycling has not increased. Normally, we see quite an increase because of holiday parties, dinner parties, all of those things. We’re seeing just a regular amount of that. People are adhering to [the state guidelines] to stay within your family of 10.”