WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis.— It’s the final days of the gift-giving holiday season. Local recycling centers are reminding residents to sort out all their gift wrapping aftermath. 

The season yields a surplus of boxes, paper and thrown-out clutter making way for those new gifts.

“A lot of the contamination we see around this time are various plastic Christmas decorations, so things like bows and ribbons,” said Jessica Hanson, with Winnebago County Solid Waste. “We don’t want to have those in your recycling bins; it will cause issues to our equipment and that won't help in the long run.”

As supply chain shortages heightened this year, recycling things like cardboard boxes has become a priority for Hanson and her team. It’s crucial to recycle the already scarce cardboard box. 

“As far as talking about supply shortages the age-old adage is, 'reduce, reuse, recycle,'” said Hanson. Making sure those materials get back in the system so they can get back to consumers is really, really important.”

Hanson's top tips

  • Gift wrapping paper that is mostly not too glossy or foil-based can be recycled

  • Boxes you don’t plan to reuse, make sure to flatten out and remove any loose tape

  • Lastly, when it comes time to take down your Christmas tree, don’t toss decorative string lights into the trash, those should be disposed of with electronics

“We do offer electronic recycling, so with the new incoming gadgets you might receive for the holidays we don’t want those in the trash cart or in your recycling bin,” said Hanson. “We can help find ways to have those properly recycled.”

Hanson said that most paper gift bags are recyclable and in an area with various paper mills, those items will soon have a new thriving life.