Christmas cleanup has just begun; here’s what you can and can’t recycle

SALT LAKE CITY — With Christmas comes ribbons. With Christmas comes tags. With Christmas comes packages, boxes, and bags, but waste management representatives say not all of these are welcome in your garbage.

"This time of year, we get a lot of packaging in, and there’s plastic widgets, plastic films, strapping, ties, zip ties; all mixed in with paper products," said Beau Peck, director of Interwest Paper, Inc.

These items are a no no when it comes to your blue curbside recycling bin. Experts ask customers to the proper guidelines, especially around the holidays, when they pick up 10% to 12% more recycling.

"We call it the Amazon affect," Peck said, "so before, a cardboard box would go to a retail store, they would have one case of product, put those six items on a shelf, create one box. Now, that one case of product now turns into six additional boxes."

A bale of cardboard weighs about 1000 pounds and recycling experts say it only takes about 4 pounds of contamination, roughly the weight of five magazines, for the entire mound to be completely rejected.

"If there’s too much that’s too dirty, we just skip it," said Peck, "and it ends up going to a landfill or a wasted energy option."

Peck also says wrapping paper with foil, glitter, or laminate of any kind, are also a no go. Salt Lake City reps say your Christmas trees can also be recycled.

"If you have those wonderful (blue recycling) containers...you very likely also have a brown compost can," said Sophia Nicholas, communications manager at the Salt Lake City Sustainability Department.

The sustainability department encourages residents to cut up their tree so that it fits in these curbside compost cans for pick up on their regular waste collection day.

"We don’t want any ornaments, any flocking, any lights, or anything that is not organic," Nicholas said.

If you can not cut up your tree, you can leave it curbside until January 25th. Representatives say if you follow these rules, you can feel good for doing good.

"You’re doing the right thing and saving CO2, omissions, diesel fuel, water; all kinds of things," Peck said. "And trees of course."

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