MADISON — Decorations and gifts can generate a lot of waste during the holidays, but not all gift wrapping and used electronics belong in the same place. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding people what should and should not go in the recycling bin once gifts are opened and decorations come down.
Wrapping paper should generally be recycled, as long as it doesn’t have glitter, foil or other adornments. Tissue paper can not be recycled and should go in the trash.
Holiday light strings and cords can not be processed at modern recycling facilities. Some retailers, electronics recyclers and communities offer seasonal recycling programs for broken light strings. For example, holiday lights can be shipped to or dropped off at the recycling program Holiday LEDS in Sussex, Wisconsin.
Other electronics including rechargeable batteries also cannot go to recycling facilities — they often contain hazardous materials and can cause fires in collection trucks and facilities. The DNR provides a guide to electronic collection sites and mail-back programs through E-Cycle Wisconsin.
The DNR says that many recyclable items are banned from landfills. These include cardboard, newspaper, magazines, office paper, plastic #1 and #2 containers, aluminum cans, steel cans and glass bottles or jars.
Also banned from land fills is yard waste, including cut Christmas trees after the DNR reclassified them from holiday decorations on Tuesday. The DNR recommends chipping or composting yard waste because organic waste takes up a lot of landfill space and creates harmful greenhouse gases when it breaks down in landfills. Chipping or composting is also useful for gardening and landscaping. The DNR provides a list of licensed composting facilities across the state where cut trees can be taken after the holidays.
Residents in Milwaukee will have a tree pick-up option this season with the new company “Milwaukee Tree Pick Up.” According to TMJ4 News, the company will send a team to your curb to collect and then compost the tree for a fee of $25. Trees will be picked up within 72 hours of the time you schedule for and 10% of profits will be donated to Milwaukee Diaper Mission.