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Knowing what to recycle or bury after Christmas morning

Mountains of holiday recyclables come into the Linn County Solid Waste Agency right after Christmas. Some items can cause fires or contaminate entire loads if not sorted properly

LINN COUNTY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) - You can tell what time of year it is by the trash traveling through the front gate and at the Linn County Solid Waste Agency and Joe Horaney knows Christmas is coming, “ We always have a huge rush for the holidays.” He says it starts in late November as shipping boxes begin to arrive across the corridor and people plug in those tree lights for the first time and discover that one bad bulb, “ So when your Christmas lights go out they can be recycled for free as part of our electronics program, you cannot put these in your curbside container, but you can bring them to our County Home Road location and drop them off for no charge.”

Horaney says those Black Friday door buster deals also have some shoppers trashing their old televisions, but some forget they’re banned from the landfill, “ There is a fee when you get rid of old TVs. It’s based on screen size so 18 inches or smaller it’s ten dollars per unit. 19 inches or bigger it’s 15 dollars per unit and that includes all the old tube tvs.” Some other items can actually be dangerous, batteries included. While regular Alkaline batteries are no longer hazardous and can be placed in your garbage, Lithium and garbage are a costly combination, “ Because those can really spark fires. We actually had three in our landfill back in 2016 where they get run over by the equipment, exposed to the air, they ignite and go off.”

Horaney says the most confusion over recycling during the holidays is probably caused by wrapping paper. He says throw it in the garbage, otherwise if it ends up in a recycling bin and truck, it could mean having to bury the entire load, “ It’s made out of the wrong type of fibers that can’t be recycled. Most of the time there’s a sheen or a coating on it so if you put it in with your other recyclables you’re going to contaminate that whole load and you might get the whole load thrown out.“

Real Christmas trees are also recyclable. Often conservation clubs collect them for fish or wildlife habitat or local communities offer a free pickup or drop off locations. Horaney says keep an eye open for them, because while you can bring trees to the recycling center, there is a fee.

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