Last year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest single shopping day in Amazon’s 25 year history, but the company’s success has led to problems for the country’s recycling industry.
The number of annual deliveries through the US Postal Service, Amazon’s default delivery method, has doubled over the last decade, going from 3.1 billion in 2009 to 6.2 billion in 2018.
The extraordinary growth of cardboard waste from shipping materials has been dubbed ‘the Amazon effect’ at many waste removal and recycling companies.
Waste management and recylcing firms have begun to call the enormous growth in packaging materials that end up in the trash as ‘the Amazon effect’
According to a report in
The enormous increase in residential packaging materials has come at the worst possible time, as in 2018 China, formerly the world’s largest recycler, began refusing shipments of recyclable cardboard from the US in instances where it was contaminated by .5 percent or more of other material.
In years past, shops and other commercial establishments were the main source of recyclable cardboard and they tended to produce much cleaner and better sorted waste, in part because the materials weren’t likely to be mixed up with domestic trash like food containers.
Today, between 25 and 30 percent of cardboard recyclables come from residential areas and are much more likely to be contaminated with other material, meaning it will end up either in a landfill or an incinerator.
‘It’s very difficult for American material recovery facilities to satisfy that standard because Americans put plastic bags and chewing gum and bowling balls and dirty diapers and everything else you can imagine into the recycling containers,’ David Biderman of the Solid Waste Association of North America told The Verge.
Amazon’s default delivery service, the US Postal Service more than doubled the number of packages it handled, rising from 3.1 billion in 2009 to 6.2 billion in 2018
Amazon has tried to move toward more efficient shipping materials, and claims it’s used alternative shipping materials for 1.18 billion orders since 2008 that otherwise would have been sent in cardboard boxes.
These gains appear to have been outpaced by the sheer demand for more consumer goods from the American cities and suburbs.
The waste removal company Republic Services expects the trash and recycling output of each household this year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day to rise by an additional 1,000 pounds this year, a 25 percent increase on 2018.
‘To use the word bluntly: that’s a crisis, an economic crisis in the viability of recycling in the US,’ Republic Service’s Richard Coupland said.
THE TRILLION DOLLAR RISE OF AMAZON
The first book sold on Amazon was ‘Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought’ by Douglas Hofstadter.
1994: Jeff Bezos incorporates what would become Amazon under the name ‘Cadabra Inc.’ He later re-named the company under its current name.
Bezos chose the name Amazon in reference to the Amazon River, the biggest river in the world, as he hoped Amazon would be the biggest bookstore in the world.
1995: Amazon opens up shop as a bookstore. The first book sold on Amazon was titled ‘Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought’ by Douglas Hofstadter.
1997: Amazon goes public at $18 per share on the Nasdaq under the symbol ‘AMZN.’
1998: Bezos begins selling more than just books on Amazon. The firm opens up sales of music, movies, consumer electronics, video games, toys and more.
2000: The firm introduces its now-famous logo, which features a curved arrow leading from A to Z, with an arrow shaped like a smile. The logo is meant to suggest that Amazon sells every kind of product from A to Z.
In 1998, Jeff Bezos began selling more than just books on Amazon. It ventured into consumer electronics, music, movies, video games, toys and many other products
2001: Amazon turns a profit for the first time ever, proving to investors that the firm’s business model could stick.
2002: The company launches Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a service for internet traffic data, but it would go on to grow into the firm’s cloud computing behemoth.
2006: Amazon rolls out Fulfillment by Amazon, its massive logistics unit that now threatens the likes of UPS and FedEx.
In 2006, Amazon rolled out Fulfillment by Amazon, its massive logistics unit
2007: Amazon releases the first Kindle e-reader, in a move that was perceived as a disruption to the traditional publishing industry.
2012: Amazon doubles down on consumer hardware, launching the Amazon Fire HD tablet.
2014: Amazon launches the Fire phone, meant to be a competitor to the iPhone, which ends up flopping. The firm discontinued the device a year later.
2015: Amazon launches the original Echo speaker, a groundbreaking device, due to its speech recognition and AI capabilities.
2017: Amazon becomes the first streaming company to earn an Oscars nomination for the drama ‘Manchester By the Sea.’
Later that year, Amazon announced it would purchase Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The move has only strengthened its stronghold over the retail market.