Dos, don'ts of recycling holiday trash

Shipping boxes with paper, plastic inside can't be recycled

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Looking down just about any residential street, you can tell Christmas has come and gone. The holiday decorations are coming down, and some of them are heading to the curb. 

Only 24 hours after Christmas, people were clearing out their homes and recycling whatever they could. Those who pick up residential recycling in Jacksonville said the biggest problem they're seeing is cardboard boxes that contain paper and bubble wrap, which is exactly what most people get with their online packages. Most plastic can't be recycled, and combining it the box makes the whole mess trash.

It’s an issue Republic Services deals with every year in the holiday aftermath. Other items they're seeing are things like tinsel, garland, old toys and Christmas lights.

"Things that could do some serious damage to our equipment that people just toss in the recycle bin," said Jason Graves, division manager of Republic Services.

These items get tangled up in machines during the sorting process. It happens about 10 times a day, and each jam takes between 10 and 25 minutes to clear.

"Up to 350 tons come into this facility each and every day and, of that, about 26 percent of it isn’t recyclable," Graves said. "When our line is down, material doesn’t stop coming in."

Cardboard, plain wrapping paper, clean metal cans, and empty plastic bottles are all fair game.
You can't recycle padded envelopes, ribbons/bows, glittery or foil wrapping paper, plastic bags or bubble wrap.

"When it’s bagged, we kind of have to make an assumption that it’s garbage because people throw garbage in there and we do want to rip something open and potentially contaminate the line with food waste or dirty diapers or anything like that," Graves said.

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Year-round recycling advice

So to ensure your holiday recyclables are actually going to get recycled, be sure to keep everything separated and loose in your bin.

As for your Christmas tree,  people who have curbside recycling and waste collections can put it out front on your regularly scheduled collection day. Make sure there are no ornaments and keep it unbagged.

Those living in apartments and condos can take your trees to one of two drop-off locations: the Old Kings Road Landfill or First Coast Mulch.

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