As the holiday season rolls into Phoenix, residents in the Valley should rethink what they are throwing into their recycling bins.
Republic Services, one of the largest waste collection companies in Arizona, sees up to a 20 percent spike in the amount of trash thrown away at its two Phoenix centers during the holidays, according to Marek Crabbs, area director of municipal services and sales for Republic Services.
Crabbs said although its great that people think about recycling holiday materials such as gift wrap and bows, residents should double check to see if their cities accept those items for recycling.
Items that are not supposed to be recycled can get caught in sorting machines, which will slow down the entire recycling process, Crabbs said.
Find the right place to discard items
Crabbs said people have tried to recycle artificial Christmas trees, which has backed up the recycling process for days.
“People don’t want to throw something away of value,” Crabbs said of why some people try to put things into recycling bins instead of the trash. “But putting something that is not supposed to be there is hurting the recycling system.”
Most cities have Christmas tree recycling programs for cut or live trees.
Crabbs said recycling standard wrapping paper is fine, but any type of wrapping paper that has a special look to it cannot be recycled in any city across the state.
“If it has glitter or something on it, none of those can be recycled,” Crabbs said. “If you can, don’t recycle those, reuse them.”
Gift bows, string wraps, plastic bags, packing peanuts, bubble wrap and thin layers of plastic covering are also non-recyclable because very light plastic items cannot be used again, Crabbs said.
Photo holiday cards also cannot be recycled.
Residents should also think carefully when considering what to do with those old electronics that Santa just replaced.
Crabbs said large items such as electronics should be donated or reused.Several cities have special recycling centers where those items and things like light bulbs and batteries can be dropped off.
“A lot of people with a conscious heart want to recycle everything,” Crabbs said. “But specifically on electronics like TVs, they have to be recycled in a different manner.”
An example of the recycling centers for electronics are the Household Products Collection Center on 1320 E. University Drive in Tempe, and North Gateway Transfer Station on 30205 Black Canyon Highway in Phoenix.
“There is mercury in those electronics,” Crabbs said,adding that light bulbs also shouldn’t go in regular recycling cans. “Certain light bulbs will get smashed up, and contaminate other things.”
Remember three recycling rules
In order to recycle properly, everyone should remember three simple rules, Crabbs said:
- “Know what to throw.”
- “Empty, clean and dry.”
- “Keep it loose.”
This means to make sure the items in your recycling bin are paper, cardboard, metal or plastic jugs, Crabbs said. Also, the items should be cleaned out of any liquids to avoid contamination. And they should not be bundled together.
“Regardless of where you live, you will be recycling material the right way,” Crabbs said. “This is the standard from what recycling producers are looking for now.”
More detailed lists of what can be recycled are city-specific. For a full list of what’s allowed, check your city’s website or enter your address into the Republic Services online form.
For example, Glendale is the only city in the Valley that does not allow glass bottles to be placed in their recycling bins.
For more general information on how to recycle, visit Recycling Simplified.
Many Valley cities and towns fall below the national average for recycling rates. How can you help your city recycle better? Here are some tips.
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