Recycling tips for paper, bows and other Christmas wrappings

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 25, 2013 

The stacks of presents under the tree have transformed into mountains of ripped paper and bows. While the gifts are being enjoyed, what can be done with all that wrapping and packaging?

Here is some advice on what can be recycled and how, from Nooksack Valley Disposal & Recycling and SSC.

What type of holiday wrapping paper and material is recyclable?

-- Almost all kinds of wrapping paper, except those containing foil. Separate the foil.

-- Gift bags, after the handles have been torn off and put into the garbage. If the handles are made from a natural fiber, like jute or thistle, SSC Food Plus! customers can place them in their toters.

-- The cardboard tube that wrapping paper is rolled on.

-- All holiday cards, regardless of how much extra material (such as glitter) is on them.

-- Cardboard boxes and gift boxes can be set out curbside.

-- Crumpled-up paper that cushions large packages in the mail is often newsprint, so it can be flattened and recycled with newspapers.

-- The cardboard backing of toy containers, such as Barbie packaging, after the clear plastic cover has been set aside. Although the hard plastic covers can't be set out for curbside pick up, they can be dropped off at SSC's facility at 1001 Roeder Ave. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (except on Christmas). People can round up their plastic packaging along with items like plastic plant trays, plant pots and buckets larger than 1 gallon, stuff the items inside a 30-gallon plastic garbage bag and drop them off at SSC for a $5 fee.

-- Inflatable plastic bags, which are sometimes used in packaging in place of foam "peanuts," can be dropped off at SSC. The plastic bags, along with other thin plastic items, like bubble wrap, can be crammed into a 30-gallon plastic bag and dropped off at SSC for $5. It's important to note that rigid plastic items must be put in a separate garbage bag to be recycled. Don't put these in curbside bins. Nooksack customers should call the facility at 360-354-3400 for plastic recycling options.

What types of holiday materials are not recyclable?

-- Ribbons and bows, although these can be reused.

-- Any foam products cannot be recycled locally. Packing "peanuts" can be reused or dropped off at mailing stores that reuse or sell them. Nooksack Valley Disposal accepts bags of packing peanuts at its facility at 250 Birch Bay-Lynden Road at no charge and then offers them for free to businesses to pick up.

-- Most handles of gift bags, which are usually made out of cotton or other textiles.

-- Items that cannot be separated from one another, like metal attached to wrapping paper.

What can I do with large cardboard boxes I used for presents?

-- SSC will accept a pile of cardboard boxes 6 inches thick and 2 feet wide by 4 feet long with the regular curbside bins pickup. Nooksack will accept a pile 1 foot thick and 2 feet wide by 3 feet long. Residents can portion out their cardboard or other recyclables that won't fit in the curbside bins over a period of weeks, so eventually it will all be picked up. If SSC customers have extra recyclable material, they can put it out as long as it's in a box no bigger than a curbside bin. Nooksack customers can drop extra recyclables off at the facility for free.

Reach ZOE FRALEY at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or call 756-2803.

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