6 simple ways to reduce holiday trash, protect the environment

DOVER, Del. – From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than any other time of year. Boxes, wrappings, packaging and party goods add tons of extra garbage to Delaware’s landfills. When deposited in a landfill, a Christmas tree can take up as much space as a washing machine.

DNREC reminds Delawareans that holiday time is the right time to reduce your “wasteline” while helping the environment – by recycling your Christmas tree and all those extra mail order boxes, gift-wrapped packages, tags and cards.

“It’s easier than ever to recycle holiday materials through Delaware’s Universal Recycling program,” said Bill Miller, program manager in DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section. “Universal Recycling is single stream, meaning cardboard, paper, junk mail, plastic containers, glass bottles and metal cans can all get tossed into your recycling container for curbside pickup or dropped off at a Delaware Solid Waste Authority recycling drop-off center.”

Single-stream recycling collection service is included with trash collection service at all single and multi-family residences. It is also available to all businesses, non-profits, organizations, municipalities, and schools in Delaware. An updated “How to Recycle” guide is online at www.recycling.delaware.gov. The guide’s center page features a handy list with images of items that are accepted in Delaware.

Electronics, plastic bags, and Styrofoam are not accepted in single-stream recycling programs. Here are some helpful tips to recycle these and other materials this season, as well as reduce waste year-round:

  • Recycle unwanted boxes, wrapping paper (without foil backing), card stock type gift tags, cards and envelopes along with all the holiday catalogues and promotional mail. These items can go in your curbside recycling bin or be taken to a recycling drop-off center.
  • Recycle your Christmas tree. Trees must be free of all ornaments, lights and other trimmings, as well as tree stands. Information on free drop-off options for Christmas trees can be found in DNREC’s Dec. 23, 2015 press release. For other management options, contact your waste hauler or visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/yardwaste. Please note: Christmas trees are no longer accepted at Delaware State Parks.
  • Collect and reuse boxes, tissue paper, ribbons, bows and other gift decorations for next year. Save used holiday cards to cut up as gift tags for next year.
  • Take plastic retail bags back to grocery stores and other retailers. Plastic bags cannot be recycled in single-stream recycling programs. However, most stores have collection containers for plastic bags (usually located near the entrance or customer service area).
  • Recycle your old electronic devices. Some manufacturers and retailers have free take-back programs (e.g. BestBuy, Dell, etc.). The Delaware Solid Waste Authority also offers drop-off sites and collection events for electronics in Delaware.
  • Donate usable toys, appliances, clothing, and household goods to organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. Support those retail outlets as great options for gifts, clothing, and building supplies.

More information can be found at www.recycling.delaware.gov or by calling DNREC’s Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances at 302-739-9403.

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