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Pinellas and Hillsborough officials warn against recycling Christmas decorations

Posted: 4:05 PM, Dec 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-10 19:27:25-05

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Things like Tinsel, garland, foil, wrapping paper, and Christmas lights are major problems for Waste Management Recycle Tampa. 

"They can get tangled in the sorting equipment," said Stephanie Watson. 

Watson is with Pinellas County Department of Solid Waste. She says that stuff can end up breaking the machines used to sort the recycling. When that happens the facility shuts down for about three hours so workers can cut the tangled items out. Sometimes they have to do that eight times a day. 

In some cases, those items can cause a fire. That's what happened when the multi-million dollar facility had shut down for six weeks earlier this year. 

Both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties send their recycling to WM Recycle Tampa. Both counties are now using social media to show you which holiday decorations, and other items, should not end up in your recycle bins. 

"Don't get tangled up in your recycling," Watson said. "Put your holiday lights, your bubble wraps, and plastic bags in the trash. 

Just like recycling, Watson said, that trash is also being put to good use. Officials are using the waste for energy in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

"So when you put that in your garbage we turn that into electricity, which is beneficial," she said, "We create enough electricity here to power [thousands] of homes." 

If you are ever in doubt, WM Recycle Tampa said you should just throw the item in the trash instead of the recycling bin.