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What is recyclable?

torn wrapping paper under Christmas tree

The holidays seem to be rife with trash, trash and more trash. From gift boxes, wrapping paper, bows and mailing boxes to food containers, our trash bins seem to be filled to the very brim this time of year.

And the question always arises: Is this recyclable?

We desperately wanted to give you a definitive answer on what is and isn’t recyclable. Unfortunately, while local trash companies and collectors have made drastic advancements over the years towards being able to recycle more materials, what is and isn’t recyclable still comes down to what is available in your individual community. We are not, however, leaving you without any information!

The two largest waste management companies in the United States are Waste Management and Republic Services. Chances are high your home is served by one of these. Check out their sites to find out what exactly they are able to recycle.

Here are also some general guidelines that seem to apply across the board both during the holidays and beyond:

  1. Gift wrapping paper, bows, ribbons are generally NOT recyclable (unfortunately).

  2. Gift boxes are recyclable.

  3. Gift tissue paper may or may not be recyclable. It is often made out of recycled paper and has a lower fiber content than other kinds of paper. It is, therefore, difficult to recycle and yields less recycled product than other papers. Metallic gift tissue paper is definitely NOT recyclable. In fact, its metallic flakes can ruin a whole batch of recyclables.

  4. Plastic bags from the grocery store are not recyclable by either Waste Management or Republic Services. These need to be returned to the store itself.

  5. Magazines and phone books are recyclable.

  6. Newspaper is recyclable, but the plastic bag it comes in is not. Be sure to remove the plastic bag before you throw it in the bin.

  7. Waste Management CAN recycle aluminum foil, Republic Services CANNOT. It is very important to make sure the foil is clean before recycling.

  8. Glass is recyclable as long as it isn’t ceramic or high-heat resistant, like Pyrex.

  9. Make sure everything you put in the recycling bin is EMPTY, CLEAN and DRY. Waste Management says: “One dirty product, or one with food waste still in it, can contaminate an entire bale, containing thousands of pounds of collected plastics. This can cause thousands of recyclable items to go to a landfill instead of being recycled. Cleanliness is essential.”

  10. It’s also important to flatten containers are much as possible.

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