Recycling Those Holiday Items - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Recycling Those Holiday Items

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By: Claire Powell


Which holiday items should you recycle and which should be thrown away?

Trash increases by 25% during the holidays because people throw away items that could be reused or recycled.

Holiday party items like tin foil, plastic dishes and utensils should all be thrown away. While, tin cans, cartons and dry goods boxes can all be recycled.

After wrapping and unwrapping all of your Christmas gifts, your non-metallic gift wrap, tissue paper and catalogs can be recycled. However, items like garland, strings of lights, metallic wrapping paper and ribbons should be thrown away.

"No garland, no lights, these things are like a vacuum cleaner cord. When you run your vacuum over it, they wrap up in the recycling equipment and make it jam up and make it impossible to recycle the things that can be," said Reo Menning, Metro Waste Authority.

At recycling plants, strings of lights have to be found before they reach the sorting machines.

"The lights get pulled out because they'll wind and bind in the equipment," said Menning.

Outside, the cardboard is piling up.  

"It increases about 33 % at our recycling center, and that's due to all of the packaging from the gifts that are being shipped and given," said Menning.

So what can you do with the biggest decoration of all? Recycle it, of course. More than 7,000 Christmas trees will be picked up from all over the metro. 

"Put a "Compost it!" sticker on it and make sure your tree is free of decorations. No stands, no plastic bags, put it on the curb on your regular garbage collection day and it'll get picked up," said Menning.

Then in one year, the trees will be a nutrient-rich compost that will be used in major landscaping projects all over Iowa.

The garbage collection dates for Christmas trees is December 30th- January 10th.

For more recycling information, visit

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