From gift paper to plastic wrap, holiday recycling tips

Americans generate 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Yet about 80 percent of what is thrown away during the holidays could actually be recycled or repurposed, Republic Services says.

Here are tips to become better recyclers during the holiday season:

Paper & Cardboard

Flattened cardboard, newspaper, magazines, office paper and common mail can be recycled as long as they aren’t contaminated by food, liquid or waste.

Whether you gave toys or tools, housewares or hockey sticks, the packages are often made of mixed materials. Be sure to separate the cardboard backing from the plastic windows before placing them individually in your recycling container.

Sticky gift tags are too small to recycle by themselves, but they can be recycled if they’re still stuck to an envelope, wrapping paper, or a paper gift bag.

Plain wrapping paper can be recycled, but not foil or glitter wrap. Bows and ribbons also can’t be recycled– they belong in the garbage or save and reuse next year.

Metal Cans

Before recycling food and drink cans, remove paper or plastic labels and clean out any residual materials.

Lots of parties means lots of food. Metal cans are usually recyclable, but not if they have an insulated coating. When in doubt, throw it out.

All those holiday meals will result in plenty of dishes to wash, so don’t fret over thoroughly cleaning your recyclables. Just be sure to give them a good rinse and place them in your container when they’re dry so they don’t contaminate other items.


While hard plastic containers like water bottles, milk jugs and detergent containers can go in your container, flexible plastics like grocery bags, bubble wrap and styrofoam require special handling and can’t be recycled curbside.

Eggnog and flavored creamers make the holidays extra delicious. Better yet, the plastic containers they come in, and other containers like them, are recyclable. The lids, however, are too small to recycle by themselves, so either put them back on the containers or throw them away.

The poke test is just as accurate during the holidays. if you can poke your finger through the plastic, it doesn’t belong in your recycling container.

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