Recycle the Holidays

Recycle your cardboard and throw away your plastic bags

The holidays are a time for joy and celebrating – but with that celebrating comes a lot of extra waste. In fact, during the holidays, Americans produce ~25% more waste than during the rest of the year!

You can help this problem by being mindful of what you can recycle and what you can’t. With increased waste around your household during the holidays, especially items that you don’t normally run into year-round, it can be difficult to discern what gets recycled from what gets tossed.

To stay on Santa’s nice list this year, make sure you’re recycling the following:

  • Wrapping paper (paper only, no foil or glitter paper)
  • Cardboard boxes (empty and flattened)
  • Catalogs
  • Magazines
  • Paper boxes
  • Paper cards and envelopes
  • Plastic bottles and jugs
  • Aluminum, tin and steel cans

Some items that should not go in your recycling are:

  • Christmas lights (can be taken to select scrap metal recyclers)
  • Garland and tinsel
  • Foil wrapping paper
  • Ribbons and bows
  • Bubble wrap and plastic air pillows
  • Foam packaging
  • Plastic utensils, cups, and straws
  • Paper plates
  • Batteries
  • Photo Paper 
  • Christmas trees (use our Calendar tool to see your Christmas tree collection days) 

Place tanglers like holiday lights, ribbon, packaging in the trash.

When things end up in our recycling system that don’t belong there, they often end up shutting down equipment or causing hazardous working situations for workers. In fact, plastic bags, clothing, cords, and other tanglers shut down our recycling equipment for 4 hours per day on average! As a result, we end up with around 240 tons of good recyclables every day that can’t be recycled.

Fortunately, although they can’t be recycled, these things do bring Tampa the gift of electricity during the holiday season when you toss them. Tampa turns trash into energy, powering as many as 15,000 homes!

Help us get the most out of our recycling systems and keep Tampa in the spirit of the season #RecycleTheHolidays! 

Wondering how to dispose of your old electronics? During the holidays, it’s common to use a lot of batteries and replace old electronics with new ones. Standard alkaline batteries may be tossed in the trash. Rechargeable batteries, including cell phone batteries, however,  must be disposed of as household hazardous waste. You can bring these items to any Hillsborough County household hazardous waste and electronic recycling location.