Cyber Monday and the rise of online shopping is impacting local recycling centers

According to Adobe Analytics, Cyber Monday 2018 brought in $7.9 billion in sales, setting the one-day record for online sales.

They're projecting this year's Cyber Monday to be one for the books again, estimating $9.4 billion in sales.

Many of you will be done with your holiday shopping with just a few clicks, and soon, those packages will arrive at your front door.

Officials with the U.S. Postal Service project 800 million packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

More packages at your front door also means more cardboard boxes at local recycling centers.

"For several years, we've noticed a gradual increase in the amount of cardboard that's being recycled, whether it's via commercial recycling or residential recycling," Esther Murphy, the Director of Recycling for the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, said.

She said from 2018 to 2019, there was a 31% increase in the amount of recycled cardboard countywide.

"It is accounted to what's called the Amazon Effect, and it's just the effect of many people now utilizing online shopping versus going to a brick and mortar store, so we definitely have seen an increase in the amount of recycling of cardboard," Murphy said.

Murphy said typically, the county sees about 200 tons of recycled cardboard a month, but during the months of December and January, they see more than 300 tons, and that's thanks to online holiday shopping.

She said they prepare for Cyber Monday and online holiday shopping similar to how they prepare for hurricanes.

"Usually as far as recycling centers are concerned, if we anticipate, for instance, usually somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, an increase in the amount of cardboard or in general, just material as a whole coming in, we adjust staffing levels," she said.

She said she doesn't think this increase in cardboard recycling is going to taper off anytime soon, which could lead to a need for more staff and equipment at local recycling centers.

"I don't believe that online shopping is going anywhere anytime soon. It's increased over the past several years and we anticipate that it will continue to increase, so we will prepare for that increase with regard to how we recycle materials here," Murphy said.

Murphy said consumers can help local recycling centers by getting their packages delivered in as few boxes as possible. Amazon offers that option.

She said all cardboard boxes must also be emptied and collapsed before they are recycled.

Corporal Bryan Ricci with the Conway Police Department said collapsing those boxes not only helps out local recycling centers, but it also could ward off potential thieves.

"Break up your boxes. Don't just leave your whole box out there. I'm a big fan of folding them inside out, that way people don't know you've made this big purchase and that it's sitting outside for you," Ricci said.

He said you should also avoid publicizing your big purchases on social media, and get them off your porch as soon as possible.

"When you make a new purchase, you don't want to post it online or leave it on your porch or wherever you get your deliveries for any longer than you need to. If at all possible, have a neighbor maybe come grab it if you're going to be gone for a while," he said.