Recycling during the holidays

lotsa-christmas-presents.jpgWe’re coming into what has to be considered the equivalent of leaf season for recyclables: Christmas and its landslide of gift boxes and wrapping paper that could be recycled — if you could get it picked up.

bottles.jpgThat’s not to mention likely upticks in discarded glass and plastic bottles, aluminum cans, paperboard food boxes, food cans, and other recyclable packaging related to holiday parties and feasts.

In the case of many — most? — households, it’s bound to amount to more than your blue bin can handle. For one thing, gigantic cardboard boxes cannot be made to fit in the blue bins. (I’ve tried.)

Couple all that with these facts:

1. If your recyclables are typically picked up on Thursdays, you’ve got an extra bad situation over the holidays.

That’s because Christmas falls on Thursday this year and, understandably, the recycling trucks won’t be working that day. Note: Recyclables aren’t picked up by the city, but by Waste Management under a contract with the city.

But, unlike the city with its garbage trucks, Waste Management won’t make up that recycling day’s pickups on Friday or Saturday. It doesn’t have the manpower or equipment. Instead, that day of pickups is lost forever, leaving you with all those recyclables for another week. (I feel your pain; my recycling is picked up on Thursdays.)

I can hear some of you calendar-minded folks now: Agh! New Year’s Day is the very next Thursday.

But! They will be picking up recyclables on New Year’s Day. Note: This will be the deal in the future, too: If your recycling pickup day falls on any holiday except for New Year’s Day, you’re out of luck that week.

blue-bin-is-full.jpeg2. But what if you have more recyclables than your blue bin can hold?

This is already a routine problem for some households. And it’s why the city’s acquiring bigger “super” recycling bins that it will sell to interested residents. But these bins won’t be available until January, at the earliest, according to a city spokeswoman. She didn’t know what they might cost.

Meanwhile, if your recyclables don’t fit in your cart, you’re typically out of luck. They don’t have to pick up stuff left beside the cart, even if it’s in a recyclable paper bag.

one-arm-reycling-truck.jpegAnd they can’t pick it up if they’re — well, he’s — in the one-person truck. That’s the truck that has a special arm that lifts the blue bin waaayyy up in the air and shakes it out over the truck. Just one person mans that truck and, even if he had the inclination or the time, he doesn’t have the ability to toss extraneous stuff to the opening on top of the truck. I don’t know if there’s some other way to toss in extra recyclables but the guy’s on a schedule.

So… Whaddaya do?

flattened-cardboard.jpgFortunately, as in leaf season when they have loose-leaf pickup, there’ll be some slack afforded recyclers immediately after Christmas. If you flatten your cardboard and set it beside your bin on your pickup day, they’re supposed to pick it up, too, even though it won’t be in the bin.

That just applies to cardboard, though.  Other out-of-the-bin stuff will be ignored. (Supposedly.)

If you’re so inspired, you can cart other excess recyclables to a recycling center. See this post for info on where these are and what they accept. There are both county- and city-operated recycling sites. The county sites take more sorts of stuff.

reuse_reduce_recycle.jpgAll of this might put you in mind of a couple of other ways to deal with potential Christmas trash — create less of it (that way you have less to dispose of) and reuse parts that are reusable (save gift bags; reuse good wrapping paper; wrap stuff in newspaper or cloth; or use some to make a cozy fire). Those are the first two R’s in equation that includes recycling.

And they’re not bad ideas, especially in light of this disheartening news about recycling — as with the rest of the economy, markets for recyclables are slumping terribly.

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2 Responses to “Recycling during the holidays”

  1. Catherine Pritchard Says:

    I heard from one person that she set folded cardboard boxes on top of her recycling cart and they were picked up by the recycling guys yesterday.

    Another person told me he set out a boxful of recycling that wouldn’t fit in his cart and it was picked up by the recycling truck the week after Thanksgiving.

    I guess it was just my folded up boxes that they didn’t like.

  2. Catherine Pritchard Says:

    Since I complained about my cardboard box not being picked up previously, I think it’s only fair to say they finally did pick it up this past Thursday, along with the rest of my recycling. I had flattened it and placed it on top of my blue bin.

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