'Amazon effect' at play in Winnipeg recycling bins as residents stay home, shop online


If your recycling bin is overstuffed with pizza boxes and packaging from the last time you ordered online, you're not alone.

The recent provincial public health orders — which closed bars and restaurants for dine-in and encourage Manitobans to stay home as much as possible — are having an effect on what we consume and what happens when it's thrown out. 

The City of Winnipeg has seen increases in the volume of material coming through the waste management system — both garbage headed for the landfill and recyclable material headed to the sorting plant.

The new GFL Environmental recycling plant was processing roughly 4,000 tonnes of material per month soon after being opened last year. That volume is increasing as Winnipeggers stay at home more.

Mark Kinsley, the city's supervisor of waste diversion, says the statistics showed a first blip in the first partial lockdown in the spring and then again this fall.

"There has definitely has been a noticeable uptick that we attribute to the pandemic ... it's totally connected to people being at home and producing more of their own garbage at home as opposed to being out and that garbage staying whereever that may be," Kinsley told CBC News.

The frequency with which people order goods on the Internet — and the cardboard that produces — has even been given a name based on the world's largest online retailers.

"People are definitely ordering more. The 'Amazon effect' is an actual term in the industry, where way more cardboard is coming into these programs," Kinsley said.