TAMPA, Fla. - It’s that time of year when lots of extra packaging, wrapping paper and other things head to the trash and recycle bins, so the city of Tampa shared the dos and don'ts of recycling this holiday season.
"We usually see around 1,000 tons per month of recycling, and then maybe an extra 200 tons for the month of December," said Shelby Lewis, Tampa’s recycling coordinator. "Really there’s no such place as ‘away.’ We might throw it away, but it’s not going away. There’s always someone else down the line who has to deal with that."
Do keep the usual items in recycling bins, like clean and broken-down cardboard boxes, plastic and glass bottles and jugs. Remember to leave the cap off and rinse the plastic and glass containers well.
"Paper bags, of course, more cardboard, wrapping paper, make sure it doesn’t have any foil on it," said Larry Washington, the director of solid waste and department of environmental program management.
Don’t recycle your holiday decorations. Garlands, Christmas trees, lights, string, ornaments, and plastic bags are all bad for the sorting machines.
"We call them tanglers. They get wrapped around [the machines]. We can’t properly process our loads and potentially we can contaminate an entire load or damage our equipment as well," said Washington.
It also creates a dangerous situation for workers.
"It can cause fires because of the speed that they’re going and different materials mixing, and that can create fires. So sometimes the recycling facilities have had to shut down because of fires," said Lewis. "They do have to shut down for several hours every single day just on a regular basis to cut out tanglers. So it’s really problematic and if we were to remove tanglers from the recycling stream, we’d be much more efficient and able to recycle even more items."
City officials said they appreciate people doing the best to help the environment by recycling, but they want you to take an extra moment to make sure what you’re putting in the recycle bin is something the city accepts.
You can find a list of items at www.tampa.gov/recycling, and you can also download the city’s free app "Tampa Trash and Recycling" from your phone’s app store to double check the items before you place it in the bin.