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Peak Trash

Tyler Durden's picture


The end of the year is peak trash season across America as the Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans produce around 25% more waste around the holidays than other periods. As the WSJ notes, Christmas isn't so pretty on the back end. The additional garbage—which adds up to over one million tons of waste—includes food scraps, cutlery, wine bottles, wrapping paper and Christmas trees; but Online sales add a thickening layer of refuse. In recent years, as more consumers have taken to buying online, the volume of corrugated cardboard boxes, air-filled plastic pockets and Styrofoam pellets in trash has grown. The rise is unprecedented as corrugated cardboard boxes account for as much as 50% of the paper product waste from some nearby towns, versus less than 20% a decade ago.

Via WSJ,

the holidays also produce an ever growing pile of trash, one that is getting bigger as Americans shift more of their shopping to the Web.


David Menke, a sanitation worker in Ohio, sees it firsthand driving a garbage truck and collecting trash on the outskirts of Cincinnati. "You can tell people are buying more things online, as there are already a lot of Amazon and FedEx boxes," said the 34-year-old.




Americans produce around 25% more waste around the holidays than other periods, estimates the Environmental Protection Agency.




Online sales in the U.S. this year are forecast to grow 15% to $78 billion, according to technology researcher Forrester Research Inc.... The U.S. Postal Service expects to ship a record 420 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's, an increase of 12% from last year.




At Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC, a New Jersey recycling company, corrugated cardboard boxes account for as much as 50% of the paper product waste from some nearby towns, versus less than 20% a decade ago.


"A lot of that is the result of e-commerce," said Allan Zozzaro, who runs a materials-processing division of Atlantic Coast. And after buying online, people get more catalogs in the mail from retailers, adding to the waste, he said.




Some retailers in recent years have tried to cut down on box sizes and materials to reduce waste. Amazon now sells some toys and consumer products in what it calls "frustration-free packaging," which enables some items to be delivered in their own packaging without an additional shipping box. Still, shoppers say boxes they receive are sometimes too large or have a lot of filler material.




"There are lots of plastic bags filled up with air, and sometimes giant boxes," Ms. Skeuse said. "It's a lot of waste."


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Thu, 12/26/2013 - 18:55 | Link to Comment financial apoca...
financial apocalyptic contagion's picture

burn it all

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:35 | Link to Comment Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

You would suffocate if you burned all the plastic... we got a day of burning plastic in Silicon Valley recently and that stuff shouldn't be a daily occurrence.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:06 | Link to Comment RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

Fortuitously the giant cardboard box my new fridge came in can double as a roomy and luxurious home after I am foreclosed.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:25 | Link to Comment Boris Alatovkrap
Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Boris is recent look for new apartment, what is meter square? Amerika refrigeration device is very large, no?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 21:09 | Link to Comment BigJim
BigJim's picture

As a libertarian  (to paraphrase Einstein) I want the government to be as small as possible... but no smaller.

Pigouvian taxes on plastics would go a LONG way to solving the problem of excess packaging that cannot be rapidly degraded by the environment. Seems to me that most styrofoam could be replaced with foamed starch, for instance, at very little cost to the end consumer, but to great benefit of the environment. And I seem to recall everyone getting along perfectly well with paper bags to put their groceries in when I was young.

Check this out if you want to see what plastic is doing to some of the world's most graceful creatures:

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 22:39 | Link to Comment snr-moment
snr-moment's picture

Maybe we can recycle this stuff into, oh, I dunno, something like....electricity?   Maybe re could rename the boxes something like.....biomass?  And the plastic something like...preowned deisel.  Stupid thought, I know.  Let's just keep dumping it into the oceans.

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 04:18 | Link to Comment Boris Alatovkrap
Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Boris is proposal... every day, 10,000 cargo container is cross from China to USSA for mass consumption of junky Chinese junk. Every container is return half is full... why not to ship junk waste back to China and China is use for recycle for manufacture raw material...? Rinse and is repeat.

Of course, China industry probably is not process well and is ship back much disease, fungus, and contamination, but what is else new?

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 05:21 | Link to Comment RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

Boris I am welcome you now forever, but my box home no room for radioactives; we can place over round hole that leads to local copper mine.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:44 | Link to Comment Fíréan
Fíréan's picture

So can the fridge, in warm climates ! 

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 18:59 | Link to Comment Imminent Crucible
Imminent Crucible's picture

"There are a lot of plastic bags filled up with's a lot of waste."

All that air needn't be wasted.  Surely it could power Harry Reid for a day or two?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:30 | Link to Comment Boris Alatovkrap
Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Harry Reid is nothing but air, is self sustaining ecosystem fuel by ego and delusion.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 22:44 | Link to Comment DanDaley
DanDaley's picture

Yes, but dangerous delusions. He took too many shots to the head when he was a boxer.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 23:04 | Link to Comment Emergency Ward
Emergency Ward's picture

Listen, I wouldn't fuck with thick-skulled Biden or brawler Reid, but Ron Paul could kick both of their asses.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:00 | Link to Comment ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Hmmmm.... using landfill dumping volume as a leading economic indicator.

I smell a Nobel Prize in Economics lurking somewhere in them thar fills...

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:06 | Link to Comment Peter Pan
Peter Pan's picture

Just about the whole economic policy settings and actions are based on junk economics.


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:03 | Link to Comment Peter Pan
Peter Pan's picture

Trash comes intwo components. The first is the wrapping, corrugated boxes, plastic bubble wrap etc. The second component is composed of the stuff you bought which eventually also makes its way to the trash heap.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:14 | Link to Comment akak
akak's picture

You are forgetting about the third and most critical component of trash: many of the people who buy all that unnecessary stuff, and who continue to fuel the soul-sucking materialistic lifestyle and perversion of values.

Trash buying trash and generating more trash in the process --- ah, the beautiful symmetry of nature!

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:18 | Link to Comment Peter Pan
Peter Pan's picture

The real problem is that junk is addictive just like any drug. It provides a quick but not a lasting fix. The pursuit of quantity over quality is still one of the worst traits of human beings.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:20 | Link to Comment mofreedom
mofreedom's picture

Human beings huh? I thought this was an America bashing story.  Stick to the script would ya.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 21:17 | Link to Comment ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

A site focusing on American Economics and Politics posts a story about a consequence of American Economic and Political policies, and the story is classed as America bashing. Awesomely predictable.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:30 | Link to Comment Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

The scary thing is some people don't even throw it out. I had the unfortunate experience to have entered the home of a hoarder. I can't tell you how shocking that was to see people actually live in masses of junk stuffed from floor to ceiling. Just going from room to room I felt like I was going to be asphyxiated. Interesting to note the whole family was mortally obese including the young children. It was as if they needed mounds of fat to feel secure as well. Very strange how some find comfort in what others find abhorrent.


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:50 | Link to Comment akak
akak's picture

Miffed, I too once had the unfortunate (and amazing) experience of entering the home of a diehard hoarder --- and by "hoarder", I literally mean a person who threw away NOTHING in over three years (including almost all of what anyone else would call "trash").  She was the occupant of an apartment complex owned by a friend of mine, and we had to enter her apartment after neighbors complained of bad smells coming from it.  What we found upon entering literally left us speechless.  This lady's compulsion against throwing ANYTHING away had led to her fairly large apartment having not only snaking paths leading throw the accumulated stuff (up to the ceiling in most places), but also had a roughly two to three feet thick stratum of compressed trash and junk on the floors as well.  She had about one-third of her bed uncovered with junk, where she presumably slept, and one chair in the living (?) room similarly uncovered --- every other horizontal surface not constituting part of a snaking pathway was buried deep in junk of every kind.  Words simply don't do it justice, though.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 23:08 | Link to Comment Emergency Ward
Emergency Ward's picture

Newspapers and magazines stacked five-feet high, narrow pathways through the house........

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 00:15 | Link to Comment Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Oh my, your words brought back the nightmarish vision I had hopefully deleted from my mind. This was during the 2007 Witch Creek fire when a mandatory evac was ordered. Mr and I refused to leave and hid out to avoid being hauled away. Most of my neighbors weren't so lucky. My one neighbor called me frantically begging me to feed her birds ( she raises and rehabs parrots) because the Feds wouldn't allow anyone to return for days. When I couldn't find the seed she tried to guide me through the house. I had to squeeze sideways through the labyrinth of newspapers, clothes and various junk literally piled from floor to ceiling. The house had plenty of windows but was dark during mid day from the sheer mass. I got horribly claustrophobic and had to exit numerous times. Thank goodness there wasn't a foul odor but a stifling moldy musty smell. I was terrified if an earth quake occurred I'd be buried alive.

Because of my exacting field, I tend to be fastidious and need a orderly environment without visual distraction. Mr dislikes cooking with me because I clean as I go and he trashes the kitchen with remnants dripping from the ceiling and then cleans afterward. Minimalism is my style which soothes my soul. Good thing there doesn't appear to be too many of me or the economy would surely go tits up.


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:24 | Link to Comment Two Feet Studs Up
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"If you fill a landfill for 100 years, and if you assume that during this time the populations of the United States doubles, then the landfill will cover about 160,000 acres, or 250 or so square miles, with trash 400 feet deep."

That isn't much for 3.79 Million square miles in the US. Maybe we can use all of the underground tunnels and hollowed out mountains for trash instead of trying to rule the world and telling everyone what to do...

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:36 | Link to Comment edotabin
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Yup! This wins yet another point for "Idiocracy" which conveyed this beautifully. 

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:03 | Link to Comment A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

Did we run out of Oceans to dump it in or something..........?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:28 | Link to Comment 666
666's picture

I'm happy to say that my city has had a curbside recycling program for over 30 years now. The actual trash that I throw out is about a half of a kitchen trash bag per week. Selling the recyclables actually generates a profit for the city after all expenses are deducted.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:32 | Link to Comment Bobbyrib
Bobbyrib's picture

"Selling the recyclables actually generates a profit for the city after all expenses are deducted."

Don't forget the fees they get to charge you to pick up the recyclables and all the fines for non-compliance.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 21:11 | Link to Comment mofreedom
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That's exactly why I try my best to throw recyclables in the trash...starve the beast...can't say I ain't doing my part.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 23:21 | Link to Comment 666
666's picture

All expenses, including labor, equipment, and you name it, are less than the income generated by selling the recyclables. This is probably the only government program that actually works and is a win-win (gee, I hate that expression!).

To the best of my knowledge, there have been no fines assessed. Warnings, yes, but no fines.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 21:06 | Link to Comment BigJim
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 Did we run out of Oceans to dump it in or something..........?


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 21:39 | Link to Comment A Lunatic
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Isn't that how Darwinism is supposed to work..........?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 21:51 | Link to Comment Yes_Questions
Yes_Questions's picture



They won't find a heart inside of you, will they?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 22:05 | Link to Comment A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

I watched the video, and yes I feel for the birds, just as I feel for my fellow man who has the brains to feed himself a healthy diet; physically, mentally, and spiritually but chooses instead to take the easy way out which is TOXIC to the body mind and soul. Of course it's sad, but stupidity and laziness, in man or beast, has consequences........

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 22:35 | Link to Comment Yes_Questions
Yes_Questions's picture



Fair Enough.  Apparently they'll eat anything and if there's lots of tasty looking things around to eat that don't bite back or swim away, then I guess Plastic, Its Whats For (your last) Dinner for these birds tonight.


Lets see where the animal dieoffs leave us feeling when the toxins from human activity that kill them are not a choice of their's to make whether to ingest.  


and will the Sun weep when it farts an ELE CME at its third satellite and we are all gone?


edit:  and +1 for this and many others.  





Thu, 12/26/2013 - 22:47 | Link to Comment A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

There is no doubt that Nature will have the last word; nor any doubt that mankind has one Hell of a lot to answer for.......

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 22:46 | Link to Comment nmewn
nmewn's picture

I thought he framed it quite well too.

Pure freedom has consequences, we all, all of us, struggle with it. We are after all free to pollute ourselves (in the negative) or enrich our bodies & minds (in the positive).

Of course, there is nothing to say accidents (fate?) won't intervene in either path chosen ;-)


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 23:12 | Link to Comment Yes_Questions
Yes_Questions's picture



I found a dead mouse by the door from my garage to the yard, on the inside.  Right there as if it'd died right after getting into the garage through the inviting gap at the threshhold trying to escape what was then deep freeze weather, lethal for a small animal.


The mouse will get proper burial, will not go in the trash, because I reckon my time will be up after much (hopefully fruitful) struggle and it will be an encumberance upon those alive around my body to dispose of it.  

..I can only surmise the garage was a refuge from the cold for the mouse as its body showed no outward signs of trama and there are a host of other details...

But I cannot shake the notion this otherwise healthy looking mouse must have fought to get to that last place it would know before it died fighting damn hard to do so.


I'm sensitive that way.  


The Beef Rib Roast was fantastic last night too, thanks for asking.   HH would be jealous.




Fri, 12/27/2013 - 08:08 | Link to Comment nmewn
nmewn's picture

Maybe it was something the mouse ate, I'm sure your neighbors aren't as good of a cook as you ;-)

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 23:47 | Link to Comment Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

In this case,the stupidity primarily resides with humans rather than the birds. The birds are simply responding to the shiny colorful objects and mistakenly deeming them food. Is not so much stupidity but an ignorance of what plastic is. Every horse owner knows that if a horse escapes and has access to the feed room they will engorge themselves on rich grain covered in molasses, often to their death. The grain is like cocaine candy, not encountered in nature so they react impulsively. The human knows to keep a horse in top athletic condition he needs to feed this sweet feed to his equine athlete but a horse cannot understand temperance and, therefore, responsibility lies with the human.

We have not been good stewards of this planet.


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:08 | Link to Comment css1971
Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:15 | Link to Comment conspicio
conspicio's picture

The WSJ quoteth as such: "estimates the Environmental Protection Agency" And that, in a nutshell is how you pass along corrupt federal bueraucracy lies to WSJ readers. Nicely done. Subtle, even. But Tylers, really? Metanews is your bread and butter, but quoting the WSJ quoting the EPA doesn't excuse your role twice removed. A pity, that.

But back to my impending point, I do not understand this "waste" thing. If Atlantic Coast Fibers, LLC is in the recycling business, cardboard is their primary harvest product. So record cardboard waste = bounty year. Well, at least in my economics book it does. Waste? notsomuch. Just product to recycle so the muppets can receive their debt financed tools of capitalism via corrugated boxez v2.0.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:17 | Link to Comment The Wisp
The Wisp's picture

Bullish On Card Board ,  Recycled Cardboard is the Key ingredient in New Card Board, so it's not all Lost, it also Decomposes, so it enriches the Soil at the Land Fill when they spread the dirt over the Mess, Environmentally Friendly so to Speak..  And Trash Employs a Lot of Truckers.. And Jersey Needs a Few Mountains to reclaim all that Swamp land..

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:32 | Link to Comment Spanky
Spanky's picture

"It's a lot of waste." -- WSJ

Smells like "growth".

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 21:04 | Link to Comment Bobbyrib
Bobbyrib's picture

A lot of waste..just like a subscription to the WSJ..

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:38 | Link to Comment bombdog
bombdog's picture

MOAR stuff MOAR trash MOAR jobz. Aggregate demand bitchez!

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 19:58 | Link to Comment Iam Yue2
Iam Yue2's picture

Look on the bright side;

"The rise is unprecedented as corrugated cardboard boxes account for as much as 50% of the paper product waste from some nearby towns, versus less than 20% a decade ago."

Homes for the millions who are going to be made homeless, when the grand ponzi goes belly up.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:01 | Link to Comment q99x2
q99x2's picture

Trash the Globalist's EPA and every other form of tyranny.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:13 | Link to Comment RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

Place a banker upon your giant pile of Christmas cardboard waste; set it alight, then dance around the pyre like wild Indians.

See? Environmentally correct.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:30 | Link to Comment logicalman
logicalman's picture

Let's destroy part of the planet digging up stuff to make shit we don't need or benefit from, then lest's destroy the rest burying the crap we didn't need in the first place ALONG WITH ITS PACKAGING!

Humans are so fucking clever!

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 20:52 | Link to Comment Fíréan
Fíréan's picture

Recycling green plastic bottles. I once read about a man who started a company recycling green plastic bottles making a good profit  ;  got the throw away bottles for free and turned the stuff into some high quality  usable plastic for another use, not more bottles. It was specifically green plastic bottles. Can't remember the full details (years ago). i believe it was down under, in New Zealand or Australia.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 22:49 | Link to Comment DanDaley
DanDaley's picture

In the same way that when making wine, the yeast die by producing alcohol that kills them, we humans are going to kill ourselves by our own trash and poisonous by-products. (I wish I could say that I made that up, but I stole it.)

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 23:55 | Link to Comment cbxer55
cbxer55's picture

Don't look at me. Got no packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Got no presents. Gave no presents. 

Point them fingers elsewhere, Zippy!

Did spend Christmas day with a friend and his family. His wife cooked an exceptional meal. His daughter bought some good booze, and was not shy about spreading it around, even though my friend does not like booze. It was kept "under the table" so to speak.  ;-)

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 02:31 | Link to Comment Manipuflation
Manipuflation's picture

The tree's worth of political trash that comes through my physical mailbox on a daily basis PALES in comparison to any trash generated by my children getting a couple of toys for Christmas.

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 04:11 | Link to Comment Villageidiot777
Villageidiot777's picture

Meanwhile in Sweden

They have to import trash. Almost everything is recycled and only small portion of trash ends up in the land fills.

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 08:00 | Link to Comment trader1
trader1's picture

Slavoj Zizek on the value of garbage

"...No. You call this porn? My God..."

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 08:38 | Link to Comment Fix It Again Timmy
Fix It Again Timmy's picture

When you have peak idiocy, peak trash is sure to follow....

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 09:56 | Link to Comment rsnoble
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Peak trash = peak junk from China.

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