No strings attached: Why Christmas lights don’t belong in the recycle bin

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Re-gifting might be a holiday faux pas, but recycling certainly is not. However, not everything you discard once the gifts are opened can go into your recycling bin.

The Household Hazardous Waste Facility is expecting a post-Christmas rush of people who need to get rid of their un-recyclable holiday haul.

“Certainly from Thanksgiving through probably mid-January, it’s extremely busy just due to the amount of waste folks generate through the holiday season,” City of Sioux Falls Environmental-Storm Water Manager Andy Berg said.

But for many people in Sioux Falls, recycling is a year-round tradition, not just during the holidays.

“Anything you can do to make sure the environment is taken care of within reason. So, if you have things that need to come here, you should make an effort to get them here,” Mark Aaron of Sioux Falls said.

A lot of holiday decorations cannot be recycled.

“Tinsel is garbage,” Berg said.
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“Garbage,” Berg said.

Wrapping paper is recyclable, up to a point.

“Wrapping paper and Christmas cards, if they’ve got ribbons or tinsel on them, you want to remove that first, the paper itself is recyclable,” Berg said.

Don’t tie yourself into knots trying to figure out what to do with your old Christmas lights. Just bring them here to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility and they’ll dispose of them. Last Christmas, they took in a half-ton of lights.

“The biggest problem with Christmas lights and other things like that are the tangling into the recycling equipment,” Berg said.

Plenty of obsolete electronics will also end up here once the holidays are over.

“A lot of people will get that new electronics, whether it’s a video game system or a new flat-screen TV and so when they get that, a lot of times, they need to dispose of the old one and this Household Hazardous Waste Facility is the place to take that,” Berg said.

But if you’re still torn about what can and cannot be recycled, just follow a simple rule of thumb.

“When in doubt, don’t recycle it, put it in your garbage if you’re not sure,” Berg said.

Gift bags are also recyclable, as long as you cut-off the handles.

Christmas trees are not recyclable. So the city will open its free tree drop-off site on December 26 for the real trees.

To find out what else is recyclable, click here

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