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Tis the Season for Recycling

From lights and bows to trees and decorations, there’s a lot of holiday décor that should never be put in your recycling container.

Check out Republic Services handy guide to disposing of holiday decorations:

  • Real Christmas Trees: Did you know that there are approximately 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees sold annually in the United States?  As long as tinsel, ornaments, and lights are removed first, your real Christmas tree doesn’t have to go to the landfill, but it does require special care to be turned into mulch or compost. Check for more information about Christmas tree pickups or drop-off locations.
  • Artificial Christmas Trees: The main benefit of an artificial tree is that it lasts for many years and is a mess-free alternative to a real tree. However, if your tree is on its last legs, don’t throw it in the recycling bin! We recommend donating it or repurposing it into a DIY wreath or decorative arrangement first. Artificial trees are usually made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is not recyclable. (Martha Stewart has a few repurposing tips here)
  • Holiday Lights: String lights should never be recycled. They can spool around the equipment at recycling facilities and cause a lot of damage. If you can’t reuse them next year, it’s better to throw them out.
  • Tinsel & Ornaments: Tinsel and ornaments are not recyclable either. If you can’t donate or repurpose them, toss them in the garbage.


Holiday Recycling Checklist:


  • Plastic jugs, bottles, tubs and jars
  • Metal cans
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Envelopes
  • Paper gift tags
  • Wrapping paper
  • Paper gift bags
  • Holiday cards


  • Bubble Wrap and other flexible plastic packaging
  • Ribbons, bows and tinsel
  • Christmas trees, wreaths and garland
  • Holiday decorations
  • Laminated gift bags
  • Embellished wrapping paper (glittery, foil lined or laminated)
  • Christmas lights
  • Musical holiday cards (cards with batteries)
  • Tissue paper
  • Styrofoam or foam packing peanuts
  • Electronic devices
  • Food soiled items

Learn more about how to become a better recycler at