'It's a lot of cardboard': How the pandemic has impacted trash trends
GUELPH -- Staff at local landfills say they have noticed a change in waste trends since the start of the pandemic.
“By the end of the  we did see a small increase in garbage, just under eight per cent but we also saw an increase in blue box and green bin,”said Kathleen Barsoum, Waste Coordinator for Region of Waterloo Waste Management.
Kitchener resident Chrisy Berryman told CTV News she has been putting out a lot more cardboard at the curb lately.
“Before the pandemic it was definitely about two to three bins a week and now we're putting out probably five, plus extra cardboard," she said.
Berryman says it’s because her family is trying to stay home as much as possible.
“Amazon deliveries, and big box store deliveries," she said. "Anyone that's willing to deliver now, it's been perfect.”
Barsoum confirms the landfill has been receiving more boxes.
“No surprise we are seeing a lot more cardboard from online shopping," she said.
The amount of compost on the curb has increased too.
“We used to see a bit more fast food type of stuff, but now people are actually baking a lot more stuff at home,” Barsoum added, using the once popular, pandemic baking as an example.
Solid Waste Resources Manager for the City of Guelph, Cameron Walsh, says trends in the Royal City have changed slightly too.
“As folks are staying home more, we're seeing the trend of waste that would have been office waste. We're seeing that now in the residential waste stream," Walsh said.
In Guelph, the largest spike has also been related to compost with an increase of just under 10 per cent.
When asked if recycling has increased as well, Walsh said no.
“We aren't seeing an increase in the recycling or the blue box tonnage, but we are seeing an increase in the waste tonnage," Walsh said. "So, we're wondering if potentially some of that recyclable material is making its way into the waste stream.”
The change in trends has encouraged Guelph’s Waste Resources team to take an overall look.
“We really need to monitor and understand more the long-term impacts of COVID and as well, the cultural shift of working from home," Walsh said.
Landfill staff are reminding the public to double check what goes in each receptacle.
Most municipalities have specific lists on their website as a guide.
The City of Guelph has mobile app called “Guelph Waste.”
The Region of Waterloo has a mobile app called “The Waste Whiz.”
When it comes to cardboard and delivery boxes, they are reminding the public to please break down all boxes before putting them at the curb.
Barsoum says styrofoam containers from take-out orders or raw meat packages are commonly put in the recycle, yet they belong in the garbage.
Coffee pods are also a common culprit.
“The rule of thumb is that we cannot accept any coffee pod of any style in the blue box or in the green bin," Barsoum said. "Some are presenting that they are compostable, unfortunately they don’t break down in the composting time at our municipal facility. All Coffee pods are garbage.”
As for Berryman, she says she will likely continue ordering delivery when it’s available, even post-pandemic.
“I like the convenience,” she added.