TAMPA, Florida – More household waste is generated during the holidays than at any other time of year, according to Hillsborough County. So they created their own naughty and nice list, made up of what you can recycle and what you can’t.
“We get a lot of questions about gift bags,” said Travis Barnes, Hillsborough County recycling coordinator. “Gift bags are a great sustainable option because you can reuse them over and over again and avoid having to pay for that wrapping paper, but unfortunately most of them can’t be recycled. “
However, the wrapping paper itself is a different story.
“Most wrapping papers can be recycled,” Barnes said. “However, if there is a lot of glitter or more foil, we cannot recycle these items.”
Then there are the boxes under the wrapping paper.
“Cardboard is always recyclable, make sure they recycle it,” Barnes said. “Unfortunately, the bags you get, bubble wrap or that kind of air cushion, none of that can be recycled in our curbside recycling program.”
Then there are those outdoor decorations that may not survive another year.
“It’s so much fun decorating the house for the holidays, but unfortunately most Christmas decorations or holiday decorations you put up can’t be recycled if damaged,” Barnes said.
Christmas lights in particular can be a huge problem for recycling facilities.
“So anything that would wrap around these moving pieces of equipment stops the whole process,” Barnes said. “We have to manually send people over there to cut this material, which is very expensive, very dangerous and time consuming. “
Even though you know for sure something can be recycled, Barnes said don’t make the mistake of putting it in a garbage bag first.
“So what you need to do is dump your materials, make sure they’re clean, dry, and loose in your blue cart, and then you can throw the bags in the trash,” Barnes said.
For the full list of naughty and nice county recycling, go to hcflgov.net/recycling.
“If you’re ever sure whether or not an item can be recycled, always air out the side to put it in the trash, if in doubt leave it out,” Barnes said.