For an environmentalist, Christmas is not exactly the most wonderful time of the year. It is estimated that Americans produce an extra 25 million tons of trash during the holiday season!
This waste comes in several forms and can include food waste, gift wrap, trees, and more. With all of the pretty wrapping paper, bows, and gift bags, it can be difficult to decipher what can be recycled and what belongs in the trash. The following tips will help clarify the best way to dispose of common holiday waste and enjoy a green Christmas.
Please note that the following tips apply to City of Battle Creek residents serviced by Waste Management.
1. Gift Wrapping Paper - In Battle Creek, wrapping paper cannot be recycled curbside. Please throw gift wrap in the trash to avoid contamination. If you wish to recycle gift wrap, please bring it to the C&C Landfill Recycling Center. City of Battle Creek residents can pay $3.00 to use the recycling center.
2. Tissue Paper - Tissue paper cannot be recycled curbside in Battle Creek. Please put your tissue paper in the trash bin or keep it to reuse for future gifts!
3. Styrofoam #6 - Don’t throw that Styrofoam #6 in your curbside bin OR trash bin! Instead, bring it to the City’s Department of Public Works (150 S. Kendall Street) on January 5th from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. so it can be recycled. Styrofoam is not accepted curbside in Battle Creek, but there are several one day opportunities for residents to recycle Styrofoam. Albion and Marshall recycling centers also accept Styrofoam #6. Please note that the collection event and recycling centers will not accept packing peanuts. Packing peanuts can be recycled at PakMail on E. Columbia Ave.
4. Gift Embellishments - Bows, ribbons, glitter, and most other gift embellishments cannot be recycled curbside in Battle Creek. Consider reusing these materials or toss them in the trash to avoid contamination.
5. Cardboard Boxes - Cardboard boxes are recyclable as long as they are empty, clean, and free of food/liquid residue. Tape leftover on boxes is acceptable. Flatten out boxes to make room for more material in your cart. This includes shipping boxes, shoe boxes, electronic boxes, etc. Boxes covered in glitter will contaminate recycling and should instead be put in trash bin.
6. Gift Bags - Plain paper gift bags can be recycled if they’re empty and clean. Bags coated with plastic will often have a glossy look and cannot be recycled curbside. Any gift bags with glitter or embellishments are also regarded as trash. Consider reusing bags the non-recyclable bags or making an effort to only purchase gift bags that meet curbside regulations (plain paper, no embellishments, no plastic coating).
7. Fresh Trees - This year, consider composting your fresh Christmas tree! Waste Management offers a curbside tree pickup for City residents (Dec. 26-Feb. 1) but unfortunately these trees will end up in landfills. When organic material, such as fresh trees and food waste, ends up in a landfill, it undergoes anaerobic respiration (lack of oxygen) and releases methane into the atmosphere. While methane does not exist in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, it is more efficient at trapping radiation and the pound for pound impact is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period. By letting your tree naturally decompose in your back yard or a friend’s, you can feel good about doing a small part to help the planet! Just make sure you remove all lights and decor first.
8. Christmas Lights - Christmas lights are an electronic and should never be put in your trash or recycling bin. Instead, bring them to an electronics collection event.
9. Plastic Bags - Always keep plastic bags out of your curbside cart. Instead, collect plastic bags and bring them to a grocery store that offers plastic bag recycling (such as Meijer). If plastic bags get mixed in with curbside material, they can damage equipment at processing facilities. When stores like Meijer handle them, they are sent to a facility equipped to handle them safely.
10.Paper Grocery Bags - Paper grocery bags can and should be recycled in your curbside cart. Please make sure the bags are empty, clean, and free of food/liquid residue before putting them in your cart.
Additional Resources: Collection events, recycling centers, and more: www.calhouncountyrecycling.com Contact information, pickup dates, and more: www.battlecreekmi.gov Year round recycling tips: www.recycleoftenrecycleright.com Other questions may be directed to city Environmental Program Coordinator Lizzy Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.