The holiday season in the U.S. is marked by joyous celebrations and gift-giving, but it also brings with it a significant increase in excess waste. The exchange of presents, festive decorations, and big family meals often results in a substantial increase in single-use packaging, wrapping paper, and disposable items. Additionally, the disposal of electronic gadgets and broken or old decorations adds to the environmental footprint.
Is It Recyclable? Holiday Edition
Even the most environmentally conscious of us can find it difficult to practice good habits during this bustling time. If you and your family have a goal of reducing waste this year, here is an easy to follow guide to ensure you’re recycling right this holiday.
Yes & No. Plain brown paper is perfectly recyclable. Paper with foil, glitter or plastic coating can’t be recycled.
Aluminum Roasting Pans
Yes! Please wipe out as much food residue as possible and place in your recycling cart. Pans with too much oil and residue cannot be recycled.
No. Garland and other “rope-like” items get wrapped around the moving parts of the sorting equipment and can cause it to break.
Padded Shipping Envelopes
No. These items are mixed material and can’t be recycled through single stream. (You can reuse them or some have recycling locations or instructions printed on them.)
Cooking Oil Bottles
Yes. Make sure all oil is emptied. No need to wash it out. Place the cap on the bottle before placing in your cart.
No. Christmas lights cannot be recycled through single-stream. In addition, they wrap around sorting equipment, breaking it and causing downtime.
Whipped Cream Cans
No. These items are pressurized, are likely to have residue inside and are made from mixed material.
No. Ribbon is generally not made from a recyclable material and will get wrapped around sorting equipment.
No. Rechargeable batteries are considered hazardous waste and need to be taken to a special handler for disposal.
Wine or Cider Bottles
Yes! Please put all glass bottles and jars in your single-stream cart.
No. The glass used in glass ornaments is too delicate to capture and plastic ornaments are generally made from mixed materials that can’t be recycled.
Mail Order Boxes
Yes. Please break down boxes to save room. Boxes must be inside your cart to be collected as recycling.
Yes & No. Plain cards without foil or embellishments can be recycled. Cards with foil, glitter, electronics or other items cannot be recycled through single stream.
Polystyrene (Foam) Packaging
No. Packing material breaks apart during the sorting process and can’t be captured. (Paper & cardboard packing can be recycled through single-stream.)
No. These can snag on moving parts in the system and injure workers. Drop off scrap metal for free at the Transfer Station on Commercial Row >>
Paper or Plastic Tablecloths
No. Food-soiled paper can’t be recycled. Plastic and paper tablecloths also wrap around the moving parts of sorting equipment.
Yes. No need to wash it out. Just wipe out any residue and place in your cart.
No. Electronic gadgets are considered hazardous waste and do not belong in your trash or recycling carts. They require special handling to protect the environment. Find a facility that accepts Electronic Waste >>
Sustainable Alternatives This Holiday Season
In addition to knowing what is recyclable and what isn’t, it’s also important to consider sustainable alternatives to reduce the excessive waste generated during this time of celebration.
Ditch the disposables
Holiday clean up can be a hassle, but making the commitment to load the dishwasher one more time instead of relying on disposable plates and plastic ware is one easy way to eliminate a common source of waste. If you love to host, consider buying a classic holiday dinner set that will last you for years to come.
Upcycle material to wrap gifts
This is a fun and original way to present gifts to your friends and loved ones while saving a few bucks. Materials can include paper bags that you write on or decorate yourself, tissue paper saved from previous gifts or packed items. You can even save some items you receive this year to set yourself up for sustainability next year. For some occasions, consider no wrapping at all and just using a reusable bow or ribbon.
Pick it up instead
Online shopping has become a major convenience in recent years, but the shipping involved creates a lot of waste byproduct. Consider shopping in-store or selecting the pick-up option online to reduce unnecessary shipping and packing waste.
The holidays are a time for getting together with friends and family, so while you’re entertaining this year, educate as well. Share your tips and tricks on how to recycle properly in your home when hosting parties or get togethers.
Cut the spam
Take a few moments to call the catalog company that sends you those mailers you never use every year and have them remove your name from the list.
Free Dumping Program for Reno WM Customers
City of Reno customers may drop-off one standard pickup truck load of waste four times per year at no additional cost. Get more info, locations, rules, and restrictions by visiting the Drop-Off Facilities section of the Reno Recycles page.
Happy Holidays from WM!