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Posts tagged ‘pandemic’

Keep Recycling: Corrugated Cardboard

Getting packages delivered at home was already a growing trend before 2020. When the pandemic began, home deliveries surged, as did the demand for one particular resource: cardboard.

With both individuals and companies stocking up on necessary household goods, cardboard demand skyrocketed. While recycling has always been a crucial element of carboard production, it is more important than ever to keep up with the demand and save trees!

In the past year, the amount of cardboard recycled through Salt Lake City’s residential collection program has grown by 8%!

Put another way, of the 780 tons of material that Salt Lake City collects per month, 273 tons is corrugated cardboard.

Breaking Down the Facts about Corrugated Cardboard:

Corrugated cardboard is a lightweight and sturdy way to ship products. Corrugated boxes became popular in the early 1900s, and we’ve been using them ever since. Because corrugated carboard is so readily recyclable, corrugated boxes have become the largest recycled paper and paperboard product in the U.S..

Over 90% of American products are packaged with corrugated cardboard. But making sure to properly recycle it is the tricky part! Keep these details in mind when you’re recycling this excellent resource:

Graphic reminding folks to break down cardboard boxes before recycling them. White text on a green banner says Please break down your boxes. Questions? Call (801) 535-6999. There is a photo of broken down boxes and a green arrow pointing at a blue recycling bin.
  • Is It Clean? If you’re recycling a cardboard box that was used for food packaging (i.e. a pizza box), remember that food grease contaminates the material. If you can, salvage as much of the box as possible and recycle the clean pieces.
  • Is It Empty? When you’re sorting out your cardboard boxes, be sure to check to make sure you’ve emptied it of any plastic bags, packing peanuts, or Styrofoam pieces. The same rule applies for any plastic wrapping.
  • Is It Flat? Before you throw that box in the blue bin, please flatten it to make sure that it is easily picked up and hauled away by our Waste & Recycling teams.

Properly sorting out corrugated cardboard helps our Waste & Recycling team recover this important and sustainable resource!

For more information about recycling in Salt Lake City, visit the SLCgreen website.

Check out this video to see how cardboard and other recyclables are processed in Salt Lake City’s new materials recovery facility (MRF):

Take the Clear the Air Challenge and Improve Air Quality At Home

February is (finally!) here! And that means that the Clear the Air Challenge has begun!

In the last few years, Utahns have worked together to improve air quality in the Salt Lake Valley. Early last year, the EPA announced Salt Lake City and Provo were in compliance with federal standards for PM 2.5, the fine particulate matter that pollutes our air quality along the Wasatch Front. This significant milestone came after years of community wide work to take action to clear the air.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our air quality, too. Efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve resulted in considerable reductions in PM 2.5 and other air pollutants, up to a 59% reduction in particulate matter by May 2020.

In 2020, we learned that the steps we took to slow coronavirus cases resulted in quick changes to our air quality. COVID-19 continues to threaten our community’s health and economic security, resulting in increased social inequities. Many of the changes we’ve made in this crisis are not sustainable in the long term. However, our work to improve Salt Lake City’s resiliency includes taking actions that support public health and security, and that address environmental issues like air quality.

Clear the air challenge banner. A photo of the wasatch front in winter shows clear blue sky. Text reads "Take the Clear the Air Challenge February 1st-28th."

This month, we challenge Salt Lake City community members to participate in the 12th annual Clear the Air Challenge! The Clear the Air Challenge is a chance to level up your efforts to improve air quality. The Challenge runs the entire month of February, chosen due to the seasonal inversion that makes wintertime air quality especially bad. However, the steps you take this month can make a difference for our air all year long.

For many of us who are still spending more time at home, the challenge will feel a little different this year. We’ve put together some helpful facts, tips, and inspiration to get you going on the 2021 Clear the Air Challenge!

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Coping with Bad Air During a Pandemic

Earlier this spring we experienced a period of clean air due to lock-downs put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, Salt Lake City’s summer air quality has been recently impacted by smoke from nearby and regional wildfires, as well as from higher ozone pollution that is typical in the summer.

Graph from Utah Division of Air Quality depicts pronounced spike in pollution on August 20 due to California forest fires.
The Utah Division of Air Quality’s monitors showed a pronounced spike in pollution on August 21 as the winds brought wildfire smoke from California’s devastating fires.

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Bad air quality threatens everyone’s health, particularly those with sensitive respiratory systems. The effects of bad air even have the potential to make COVID-19 even worse. Your lungs are already irritated and inflamed due to pollution, and this makes them more susceptible to infections like COVID.

Ironically, the pandemic – coupled with rising temperatures caused by climate change – are also behind the record number of human-caused fires in Utah. The feedback loop linking pandemic, fires, and bad air is disturbing, but there are ways we can take actions to help protect the air.

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