HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA)- Now that the gifts are unwrapped, the cleanup begins, but according to Travis Barns, recycling coordinator for Hillsborough County, most households aren’t disposing of their Christmas cheer correctly.
“Around the holidays, it is a fun time with friends and family but we generate a whole lot of waste,” said Barns.
According to the EPA, Americans produce 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Barns explains what is considered typical Christmas morning solid waste, like wrapping paper, boxes, ribbon and plastic packaging can be fun for you but a hassle for the county’s recycling facility.
“A lot of that waste can be recycled. We want to make sure people are recycling what can be recycled successfully.”
Barns tells 8 On Your Side he receives a lot of questions about how to properly dispose of wrapping paper.
“The super shiny stuff with the foil cannot be recycled in the curbside recycling program as well as any of the tissue paper,” said Barns.
Plastic packing can also be an issue.
“The Styrofoam would need to be thrown away in the garbage and the plastic window would need to be taken out,” said Barns.
Barns suggest next Christmas, opting for a gift that has a biodegradable package.
“It’s a great way to give back to the environment while also giving a great gift for Christmas,” said Barns.
Barns says the most troublesome item can be garland and Christmas lights.
“Never recycle your holiday decorations,” he said. “Holiday string lights are a problem at the recycling facility. They shut down the entire plant and jam the sorting equipment. We have to send staff in there to manually cut that material out. Very dangerous, very costly.”
For more holiday recycling tips visit Hillsborough County’s trash and recycling page.