Wrapping paper and cardboard boxes are among recyclable items, but wreaths, trees, Styrofoam, and string lights are not

Recycling correctly during the holiday season

Fri, 12/03/2021 - 1:15pm

PORTLAND — ecomaine, the Portland-based recycling facility, is making a list and checking it twice – a list of acceptable items in single-sort recycling bins this holiday season. 

“Every holiday season, the amount of recycling tends to increase,” said Kathryn Oak, ecomaine’s recycling manager, in a news release. “But mixed in with those items that are recyclable are some that aren’t – and even a few that can be dangerous in our facility.”

With many gifts being delivered to homes, cardboard boxes are a relatively easy item to remember to recycle. However, there are a few others that aren’t as simple:

-Wrapping paper can be recycled if it is made from paper (if it can rip easily). Plastic mylar and cellophane wrapping should go into the trash.  The same is true for gift bags.

-Decorations like fabric or string lights should be left out of recycling bins. The cords in lights can become wrapped around sorting machinery at ecomaine, causing costly and dangerous delays.

-Natural trees and wreaths may be able to be mulched or composted, but fake ones should either be reused or put in the trash.

-Styrofoam that comes with deliveries or gifts should also go into the trash, as should bubble wrap or plastic envelopes.

-Some items can be reused or donated, like ribbons and bows or old, unwanted items. 

“We want to be a resource for Maine residents as they celebrate this time of year,” said ecomaine’s Communications Manager, Matt Grondin. “With our easy and free Recyclopedia, answers to typical holiday waste questions are available 24/7, so people can have a more sustainable holiday and get back to their time with family and friends.”

The ecomaine Recyclopedia is available as a mobile app on smartphones and at www.ecomaine.org/101


About ecomaine

ecomaine, located in Portland, Maine, is the member-owned, nonprofit, recycling and waste-to-energy operation that serves a third of the state’s population in nearly 70 member communities. ecomaine provides comprehensive long-term solid waste solutions in a safe, environmentally responsible, economically sound manner, and is a leader in raising public awareness of sustainable waste management strategies.