In Brown County your cardboard trash, becomes a recycler’s treasure

Local News

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) Cardboard. Chances are good you’ve got a bunch of it in your home, especially during this pandemic. But in Brown County your cardboard trash, becomes a recycler’s treasure.

At Brown County Resource Recovery trucks drive in all day, dropping off tons of recyclables.
And over the last year a larger chunk of what’s placed here is cardboard.

“About 32,000 tons came through this facility and 20 to 25 percent of that was cardboard,” said Mark Walter with Brown County.

Cardboard that recyclers like Walter says were used to ship items as people stayed indoors during the pandemic.

“I definitely think it’s from online shopping. Informally, we call it the Amazon effect,” Walter said.

An opinion shared by this man dropping off his own stack of broken-down boxes.

“Amazon, we have Amazon coming pretty much every day. There’s always extra cardboard,” said Steve Poellot.

In 2020 over 7,000 tons of cardboard moved through this facility, an 18 percent increase from the year before. And sorting it all can be a problem.

“Cardboard as a rule is big, just physically big chunks of paper. Wet paper cardboard becomes a major issue because it actually starts to decompose and break down and it’s really hard to sort out,” Walter said.

But there is a good side to all this cardboard. It’s in high demand by the paper industry and it’s selling for near record prices.

“It’s gone from $25, let’s say $30 a ton, up to about $90 over the last year and a half,” Walter said.

Bringing in $800,000 in revenue for Brown County last year. So, Walter isn’t complaining – in fact he wants more.

“We’re happy to take it, we have a ready market for it and we have more demand than supply at the moment,” said Walter.

A situation where someone’s trash really becomes another’s treasure, at least in the world of recycling, thanks to online shopping. .

Walter says much of the cardboard is being purchased by paper mills in Green Bay and the Fox Valley.

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