Recycling Tips for the Holiday Season

December 24, 2019

It's the season to be merry ... and with all that good cheer comes a 25% increase in waste being generated.  The good news is that many items can be recycled.  However, there are definitely errors that are made when it comes to recycling.  Cart contamination is a thing... it can result in bales of waste being rejected and rerouted to landfills or errant pieces making their way into the recycling bin and creating havoc at the recycling centers.

To avoid that, always check with your local recycling centers first to see what they will accept or not.  In the meantime, here are some quick tips to help you through this holiday season:

  1. Wrapping paper, gift bags and holiday cards - all are ok to go into the recycling bin as long as it is non-laminated, non-metallic / glitter.  
  2. Holiday lights, tinsel, and stringy decorations should go into the garbage and not recycling.  These things are considered "tanglers" and can get caught in the sorting machines at the recycling centers causing stoppages and delays.
  3. Ribbons and bows can not be recycled.  These can definitely be reused so should be stored for future gift-giving opportunities.
  4. Cardboard boxes - all those boxes from your online shopping can be reused for your gift-wrapping and after all the unwrapping is done, these can be flattened and placed into the recycling bin.
  5. Food containers - most containers can be recycled but needs to be rinsed and dry first before placing them in the bin.  Pizza boxes can be recycled but not in its entirety.  You need to cut it in half and toss the portion that is dirty and recycle the half that isn't.
  6. Beverage containers - plastic and cans generally get the green light to go into recycling bins but just check to see if there are any types of plastic that your recycling center does not take.  Typically those are marked #7.  Not all centers take glass so its best to check with your recycling center first.  And as with food containers, always rinse and dry before putting it in the recycling bin.

And to make things even easier here is a cheat sheet on what NOT to put into recycling bins (aka Santa's Naughty List):

  • Bubble wrap
  • Cellophane
  • Plastic bags (try recycling shopping bags at your local grocery store)
  • Christmas lights
  • Ribbons
  • Bows
  • Batteries (see recycling and disposal tips below)
  • Food packaging and waste
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Holiday lights
  • Electronics (see recycling and disposal tips below)
  • Foam packaging

Happy Recycling!!


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