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Christmas Gift Wrappings: What to Recycle and What to Throw Away

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Now that all the presents are unwrapped and unboxed from the holidays, you are probably wondering whether to recycle or throw away all that wrapping paper.

Metro Waste Authority wants to let customers know that certain things from the holiday cannot be recycled.

“The key to wrapping paper is if it shines it is not recyclable. Although it’s gorgeous and fun and festive to have under the Christmas tree, if it glitters, sparkles, shines, unfortunately it is not recyclable,” said Leslie Irlbeck of the Metro Waste Authority.

This rule also applies to certain types of gift bags.

“If it’s a simple bag that is pretty basic paper, it can be recycled again just like wrapping paper. If it shines or glitters or has metallic on it, it can be reused but not recycled,” Irlbeck said.

Disposal experts at Stanford University say Americans throw away 25 percent more during the holidays.

If extra waste doesn’t fit in your bins, there can be a simple solution in close proximity.

“If you’re short on recycling or garbage space, maybe your neighbors were out of town this year and they have a lot of extra space. That can be the most convenient way to help dispose of that stuff that’s a little extra excessive this time of year,” Irlbeck said.

In the next few days, the decorations will be packed away until next year, and for those of you with live Christmas trees, curbside collection starts Dec. 31.

“Free your Christmas tree of any garland, lights, ornaments and buy a $1.25 'Compost It!' sticker from a grocery or hardware store. Put that on the tree and take it to your curb on your normal garbage on recycling collection day and it will be removed. Winter collection lasts two weeks,” Irlbeck said.

If you are still unsure about some items, you can go to the MWA website and click on “where should it go.”

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