‘Tis the season for gift giving. And waste! But what holiday packaging can go in the blue recycle bins?
Christmas morning your family may be surrounded by endless wrapping paper, bows and holiday cards and instinct may be to dump it all in the recycling bin. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s important to know proper recycling protocols — especially for paper products as not all paper is recycled equally.
“Millions of Americans can also do their part during the holiday season by recycling paper-based products at home,” Heidi Brock, President and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association, said in a recent statement.
Brock added that a common mistake people make at the end of the year is “Wishcycling.”
“The act of putting something in the recycling bin in the hope that someone else will figure out what to do with it, actually impedes the recycling process,” she said, urging communities to help educate consumers about local guidelines.
It is important to know that not everything can go in those blue bins. Holiday cards, bows, bags or gift wrap that has glue, ribbons and glitter-dusting can clog the recycling process. Most nonpaper products need to be tossed or reused.
If you are trying to clean up the season’s festivities in a sustainable way, the following list can help you understand where it should be disposed of.
Plain wrapping paper can be recycled. Sheets with foil, glitter and plastic or poly coatings cannot be recycled and should not be disposed of in the recycling can. It has been reported also that gift wrap paper that are red or green are not recyclable as the dyes in the paper do not allow for it.
Try reusing wrapping paper that can’t be recycled. If your gift wrap is not recyclable, after Christmas morning, trash it — and maybe consider reusable gift bags in the future.
Gift bag recycling requirements are similar to wrapping paper. Plain paper bags can be put in the recycling bin, however, bags made with plastic, foil or fabric cannot be.
If a paper bag has added embellishments such as rope handles, beads or other nonpaper decorative elements, remove them before recycling.
If your bags don’t fit recycling requirements, they will need to be trashed or can always be reused.
Ribbons and Bows
Ribbons and bows are never to be placed in recycling bins. This type of decoration can clog production at recycling plants. Reuse or trash all ribbons and bows.
When ribbons and bows jam up the recycling plant process, to fix the problem, the facility must shut down all the equipment so they can get in and cut out all the junk. An unnecessary hassle if people plan ahead accordingly.
The holiday card process starts with sort the cards.
According to the American Forest and Paper Association, both cards and envelopes made of paper can be recycled. However, those with any glitter, plastic or metallic accents should be placed in the trash, not in the recycling bin.
Online orders are breaking records this year which means there are a lot of cardboard boxes in demand. Cardboard boxes can and should be recycled.
Consumers are asked to flatten and remove nonpaper packing materials.
Packing peanuts and bubble wrap are not recyclable. And unflattened boxes take up more space in the recycling trucks, which cause crews to make more trips.