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Avoiding a Season of Waste During the Holidays

Despite all the wrapping paper, shipping boxes and food packaging, the holiday season doesn’t have to be a season of waste. (Greg Stotelmyer)
Despite all the wrapping paper, shipping boxes and food packaging, the holiday season doesn’t have to be a season of waste. (Greg Stotelmyer)
December 26, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- There's another gift you can give after all the gifts have been opened. Experts on solid waste say many items can avoid the landfill if they are properly recycled.

According to the EPA, an additional 1 million tons of household waste ends up in landfills between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. That's why recycling expert Trish Radke encourages you to stick to your regular recycling guidelines.

"We're going a mile a minute and there is a lot to do,” Radke said. “But it really doesn't take that much extra time to make sure that you're doing what you do all year long: making sure those basic materials, paper, the plastics with twist-off lids, cans and basic glass go in the cart."

Gift wrap and bags are recyclable as long as they aren't metallic and don't have glitter on them. With tech items as popular gifts, electronic devices are often discarded after the holidays. Radke said they need to be sold, donated or taken to an electronic recycling program, since they are not fit for curbside recycling.

With the explosion of Amazon and other home shopping services, Radke said many folks have piles of boxes to discard. While boxes are perfect for the recycle cart, what's inside often is not.

"Bubble wrap or plastic wrap is not recyclable, nor is the Styrofoam that often comes in that packaging,” she said. “So take all of that packaging material out, throw it in the garbage or reuse it if you can."

And something else that should not be recycled, according to Radke, are strings of Christmas lights.

"Those definitely should not go in your cart,” she said. "When they get to the recycling-sorting facilities, they actually wrap around the machines and cause a lot of damage and prevent the good recyclables from getting recycled."

If not donated or sold, old artificial Christmas trees should go in the regular trash.

More information from the Kentucky Division of Waste Management is available online at waste.ky.gov.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY