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Polk’s Waste Reduction Tips for the Holiday Season

Published on Dec 22, 2020

We are well into the holiday season and undoubtedly, there are cardboard boxes piling up in a corner. The least we can do is offer some ways to reduce waste and reuse material when possible. Whether preparing for the Christmas holiday or recovering from it, follow these tips for reuse happiness:


1.  Gift bags and gift bag bling is currency. Save and reuse gift bags, ribbons and bows for next year or occasions throughout the year.


2. Think twice when you choose wrapping paper. It may be late in the game if you buy your wrapping paper a year in advance, but only standard wrapping paper should be recycled in a recycled materials collection program. Any paper with glitter or foil belongs in the trash, or even better, reuse it to wrap another gift. Generally, the fancier the wrapping paper, the less recyclable it is.


3. Giving the gift of a new device? Recycle the old one! Make sure your old phone or tablet is recycled properly as electronic waste recycling. Check with your local service provider for special instructions or electronics recycling options. Polk County residents can bring their e-waste to Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 5 Environmental Loop S. in Winter Haven. For hours or questions, call (863) 284-4319.


4. Cardboard boxes taking over? Ordering online can yield a lot of cardboard. Be sure to break down boxes and put them inside your recycling roll cart. The goal is to keep cardboard clean and dry.


5. Live Christmas trees disposal. Polk County Waste & Recycling customers may set out live trees on their yard waste collection day. The trees will be collected and chipped into mulch and reused. If you are not a customer living in unincorporated Polk, check with your municipality or program provider for details on tree recycling.


Bonus tip:

    Santa and recycling programs love aluminum cans. As you safely gather with your
    friends and family in the time of COVID-19, if you purchase refreshments, make a
    choice to purchase beverages in aluminum cans over other container materials. Why?
    Because there is no limit to the number of times aluminum can be recycled, and it can
    be returned to store shelves in as little as 60 days.

Fun Fact: Recycling one can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours.


These items are not accepted in many curbside collection programs:


  • Bubble wrap
  • Cellophane
  • Plastic bags (try recycling shopping bags at your local grocery store)
  • Christmas lights
  • Ribbons
  • Bows
  • Batteries (household hazardous waste)
  • Food waste
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Holiday lights
  • Electronics (household hazardous waste)
  • Foam packaging


If you can’t reuse or donate these items, put them in a waste container, not your recycling bin. Your recycling program provider will appreciate it - Polk County Waste & Recycling sure does.