SEATTLE — People may already be exchanging gifts ahead of Christmas, which means wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, and packing materials are building up at homes.
Paper is one of the most recycled materials in the U.S., according to the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA). In fact, last year, 68 percent of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recycled, including 91 percent of all cardboard boxes.
The AF&PA said to continue improving on those numbers, education on proper recycling – rather than “wishcycling” – holiday gift and packaging materials is needed.
"Wishcycling" means you put everything into the recycling bin and hope it gets recycled. This can cause major issues at recycling centers.
One of the simplest things you can do with gift bag recycling is to remove tags with glitter and cloth ribbon handles before putting paper gift bags into the recycling bin.
"A good test whether something is paper based is to crumple it into a really tight ball," said Terry Webber, AF&PA VP of industry affairs.
If the item stays wadded in the tight ball and keeps its shape - it's paper.
Tissue paper can usually be recycled as long as it’s not glittery, metallic, or plastic based.
In addition to recycling paper, recycling fresh-cut trees are part of the annual clean-out tradition for families.
In King County, Webber said, as long as people remove all lights, ornaments, and tinsel, real holiday trees can be collected curbside, if residents have curbside yard waste collection service.
"They can give their tree new life as wood chips or compost," Webber said. "But the best course of action is for residents to contact their local recycling programs/officials so that they are recycling, not 'wishcycling.'"
To see all the holiday packaging recycling tips and recommendations on how to properly dispose of artificial trees, watch the video above.