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Hillsborough County makes naughty and nice list when it comes to recycling

Posted at 1:34 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 16:10:37-05

TAMPA, Fla. — More household waste is generated during the holidays than at any other time of year, according to Hillsborough County. So they have created their own naughty and nice list, consisting of what you can recycle and what you can’t.

“We get a lot of questions about gift bags,” said Travis Barnes, Hillsborough County Recycling Coordinator. “Gift bags are a great sustainable option because you can reuse them over and over again and avoid having to pay for that wrapping paper but unfortunately most of them can not be recycled.”

However, wrapping paper itself is a different story.

“Most wrapping paper can be recycled,” said Barnes. “However, if it's got a lot of glitters or more foil, we can’t recycle those items.”

Then there are the boxes underneath the wrapping paper.

“Cardboard is always recyclable, make sure they recycle that,” said Barnes. “Unfortunately the bags that you are getting or the bubble wrap or these kinds of air pillows, none of this can be recycled in our curbside program.”

Then there are those outside decorations that may not survive another year.

“So fun decorating the house for the holidays but unfortunately most Christmas decorations or holiday decorations you put out can not be recycled if they get damaged,” said Barnes.

Christmas lights in particular can be a huge problem for recycling facilities.

“So anything that would wrap around these pieces of moving equipment shuts down the entire process,” said Barnes. “We have to manually send staff in there to cut that material out, very costly, very dangerous, and very time-consuming.”

Even if you know for sure something can be recycled, Barnes said don’t make the mistake of putting it in a trash bag first.

“So what you need to do is empty out your materials, make sure it’s clean, dry, and loose in your blue cart, and then you can throw the bags into the garbage,” said Barnes.

For the county’s complete naughty and nice recycling list go to

“If you are ever unsure whether an item can or can not be recycled always air on the side of putting it in the garbage, when in doubt leave it out,” said Barnes.