“Good news, though, is that about 80% of it can be in some form or fashion reused, recycled or repurposed,” Walters said.
That includes Christmas trees, one of the biggest symbols of the holiday season.
Colleyville will pick up Christmas trees for recycling on its Jan. 2 special collection day, along with leaves and yard waste bagged in brown paper lawn bags. Recycling collection starts at 10 a.m. on special collection days, rather than 7 a.m.
Southlake offers Christmas tree dropoff Dec. 11-Jan. 15 at Bicentennial Park, 450 West Southlake Boulevard, as part of the Keep Southlake Beautiful program. The trees will be turned into mulch, which can be picked up Jan. 18.
Grapevine will pick up Christmas trees and other brush for recycling Jan. 6 and 20.
Tree stands will not be recycled with the trees. Residents of all three cities should only recycle Christmas trees once they have been cleaned of ornaments, lights and any other inorganic decorations.
“We see a lot of folks throwing those things in the recycling bin thinking that, hey, once it reaches the recycling center, they're going to pull that stuff out and then they'll take it to a secondhand store,” Walters said. “But we don't have that capacity to be able to do that.”
Instead, Walters suggests donating unwanted decor, as long as it is still usable: “Keeping things out of the waste stream in general is going to be more sustainable than even recycling itself.”
The principle is the same for gift packaging: Gift bags and wrapping paper cannot be recycled if they are decorated with any kind of lamination, metallic coating or glitter. However, gently used bags, paper and gift decorations can often be reused.
Walters expects to see fewer bottles, cans and other waste generated by big holiday parties this year, but Republic Services has seen an increase in shipping packaging in 2020. The cardboard boxes that deliver online purchases can be recycled, but Walters stresses that most padding material is not suitable for recycling, including bubble wrap and pillow packs.
“Those flexible pillow packs are one of the biggest challenges for all of our recycling centers across the nation,” he said. “Those flexible, malleable plastics, they actually wrap and tangle around our sorting equipment, so those should not go in your recycling bin.”
Republic Services recommends the “poke test” for plastics: If you can push your finger through a piece of plastic, it should not go in a curbside recycling bin.