Ringing in the holidays with excess trash

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The National Retail Federation expects a 3.6 to 4 percent increase in holiday sales this season when compared to last year. And on Cyber Monday, Amazon saw record highs for items purchased. But that also may mean record high numbers of trash.

Every December, the Rapid City Solid Waste Division collects about 1,200 tons of trash and 118 tons of recyclables. Nationwide, the total number of waste increases by 25 percent.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the country sees about 1 million more tons of trash starting on Thanksgiving and running through News Years Eve.

Sustainability Coordinator Beth-Anne Ferley at the Solid Waste Division says that locally, trash collected isn’t as much.

“It’s really weird, but it’s either the same or a little bit less,” Ferley says. “Our highest increase in trash is over the summer. So during Christmas season, it’s pretty much about the same.”

Ferley says the decrease could be due to people traveling out of the area for the holidays. The numbers numbers start picking up as tourists visit the area and snow birds come home for the summer.

Ferley says it’s still important to cut down on waste.

“I save all my wrapping paper as best as I can,” she says. “You get little kids who just tear it. But I try to save as much of my wrapping paper as I can. And the gift bags - people have gotten Christmas presents from me in gift bags that are birthday bags.”

Recycling is also a priority during the holiday season. Cardboard boxes that people receive from mail orders are all recyclable. But not all boxes belong in the recycling bin.

“If it has a shiny coating on it - like cereal boxes or beer boxes and stuff - they are not recyclable,” Ferley says.

The city of Rapid City will provide drop-off sites for Christmas trees and Christmas lights for the holiday season. People must remove Christmas lights from their Christmas trees before recycling. Otherwise, the compost will contain glass and metal.

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