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Do's and don'ts of holiday recycling

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Posted at 7:04 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 19:04:59-05

LANSING, Mich. —  Wrapping paper, Christmas lights, and toy boxes--which can go in the recycling bin and what belongs in the trash?

With over a decade of experience, Trevor Hoover, the owner of Reclaimed by Design in Meridian Township, has seen all kinds of items tossed into his recycling bins after Christmas.

"That flat, normal paper; that can go in, but that glossy, waxy, normal Christmas wrapping paper, shouldn't go in there."

Some centers don't take Christmas lights, but Hoover's does, as one of his vendors accepts electronics and copper.

Any metal on wreaths or Christmas trees should be removed, though, as well as bubble wrap and tissue paper inside boxes.

"The general rule is, if you scratch the box and wax comes off it, you should just pitch it," Hoover said.

Some cardboard items with mixed material aren't allowed - like a chicken stock box - even if it has a recycling label on it.

"It comes with a plastic cap, a waxy coating, and tin liner on the inside, which the cardboard recyclers can't take. This is what we call, wish-cycling. People are wishing for it to be recycled, but all it's doing is ruining the other recycling."

If there are too many contaminants in the bin, the loads get rejected and thrown away into the landfill, which defeats the purpose of recycling. The number of contaminants increases around the holidays.

"One load a year may get pitched but that's still too many. It starts with the community, though. If they can separate the right stuff out, that makes everyone's job easier," Hoover said.

There's always the old saying: If you have doubt, just throw it out.

Every recycling center differs in what they accept or reject so it's best to call ahead of time to double-check before throwing items away.

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