"We’re going to go through some [holiday] recycling tips."By Andrea Alvarez

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The holidays are in full swing, which means gift wrapping, cooking and lots of hosting. But with an abundance of presents and food packaging comes lots of waste and knowing what to do with all of it.

“To help eliminate some of the confusion, we’re going to go through some of the recycling tips for the holidays,” said Travis Barnes, Recycling Coordinator for Hillsborough County.

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Separating recyclables from trash seems like a no-brainer, right? But you’d be surprised by what county officials say should never end up in the recycling bin.

“Gift bags are a great option because you can reuse them over and over again, however most of the gift bags cannot be recycled. Holiday decorations, none of them can really be recycled,” said Barnes.

Recycling Coordinator for Hillsborough County Travis Barnes says recycling incorrectly can actually add cost to the program causing less material to be recycled successfully.

“When it comes to wrapping paper, if you see one’s that have a lot of foil or glitter like the examples that we’ve got here, those are not recyclable. Tissue paper is another item, also people are buying gifts this time of year and you do a lot of online shopping, we see,” said Barnes. “These types of plastic packaging or the bubble wrap cannot be recycled curbside even though they’re plastic.”

Christmas lights, also referred to by workers as ‘tanglers’, are some of the most detrimental to the recycling program and can tangle into their processing equipment.

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“We have to shut down the entire processing line, manually send staff in to cut that material out. Again, that’s very dangerous for them and very costly and just lowers the overall impact of the recycling program.”

Good recyclables include carboard boxes and cardboard wrapping paper, cards from the mail, paperboard boxes, cans, jugs and bottles.

“We have a lot of people that are wishful recyclers. They want to do their part to help the environment, they want to recycle as much as they can, but when they’re placing things in their carts that can’t be recovered, it actually lowers the overall ability of us to recycle the good stuff that we’re targeting,” says Barnes.

And be sure to place all recyclables clean, dry and separated inside the bin.

“If you do place your recyclables in bags inside your home, make sure to empty them out of the bag so that we can successfully recycle them and throw the bags in the trash,” he said.

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For more recycling tips, click here. You can also view Santa’s Naughty and Nice recycling list from Hillsborough County here: 2021 PW_Holiday Recycling TBP