’Tis the season to clean up — and recycle


DOVER — Once all of those fancy-wrapped presents have been opened and the Christmas holiday has faded into memory, there is one something that is sure to remain — lots and lots of cardboard boxes, packaging and wrapping paper.

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control wants to remind people that these materials — as well as Christmas trees — can be recycled, rather than deposited into landfills.

In fact, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than at any other time of year. It is a time when tons of extra garbage can clutter Delaware’s landfills.

“It’s easier than ever to recycle holiday materials through Delaware’s Universal Recycling Program,” said Bill Miller, program manager in DNREC’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Section.

“Universal Recycling is single stream, meaning cardboard, paper, junk mail, plastic containers, glass bottles and metal cans can all get tossed into your recycling container for curbside pickup or dropped off at a Delaware Solid Waste Authority recycling drop-off center.”

Now, about 364,000 single-family households in the state receive curbside recycling service, said Mike Parkowski, chief of business and governmental services for the Delaware Solid Waste Authority.

About 25,000 households still haul their own trash and recycling.

Last year, the state recycled about 404,000 tons of material and its recycling rate was 42 percent.

DNREC offered some tips for recycling much of that holiday splendor, such as:

• Recycle unwanted boxes, wrapping paper (without foil backing), card stock type gift tags, cards and envelopes along with all the holiday catalogs and promotional mail. They can all go inside curbside recycling bins.

• Collect and reuse boxes, tissue paper, ribbons, bows and other gift decorations for next year and save used holiday cards to cut up as gift tags for next year.

• Take plastic retail bags back to grocery stores and other retailers. Plastic bags cannot be recycled in single-stream recycling programs. However, most stores have collection containers for plastic bags, which are usually located near the entrance or customer service area of those stores.

Along with the leftover cardboard and paper mess, Delawareans are also encouraged to recycle old electronic devices after Santa Claus delivered that latest laptop or cell phone.

Some manufacturers and retailers have free take-back programs and the Delaware Solid Waste Authority also offers drop-off sites and collection events for electronics.

With those brand new perfectly fitting clothes to wear and fun toys to play with, old clothes, toys, appliances and household goods can be donated to organizations such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.

As for those Christmas trees, DNREC notes that one tree can take up as much space as a washing machine at a landfill.

That’s why it is accepting Christmas trees free of charge for recycling from Delaware residents from now until Jan. 30, at several different locations in Sussex County.

Kent County will collect Christmas trees from Jan. 9-13 and Jan. 16-20 (on a customers’ regular trash day) for customers in trash districts that have yard waste collection service.

“Many Delawareans have been recycling their Christmas trees for many years, and we encourage everyone to establish or continue this eco-friendly tradition,” Mr. Miller said. “Recycling Christmas trees that are a product of nature is a wonderful way of giving back to the environment.”

Mr. Miller said Christmas tree recycling saves valuable landfill space. At least 23 percent of residential waste in the state is composed of grass, leaves, brush, trees and other lawn maintenance and landscaped materials.

Many entities throughout the state will be collecting Christmas trees, including various waste haulers and landscapers. A customer’s regular trash hauler may offer special collections for Christmas trees in January.

There are several locations in Sussex County, though none in Kent, which will recycle Christmas trees free for Delaware residents after they are stripped of their ornaments, angels and hooks.

Those include: Blessings Greenhouses, 9372 Draper Road, Milford, Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Blue Hen Organics, 33529 Fox Run Road, Frankford, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Grizzly’s Landscape Supply Service, 18412 The Narrow Road, Lewes, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Mr. Mulch, 22288 Coverdale Road, Seaford, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m; and Millville Organic Center, Whites Neck Road (0.5 miles north of Del. 26), Millville, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Selbyville Pet and Garden Center, 38205 DuPont Boulevard, Selbyville, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Stockley Materials, 25136 DuPont Boulevard, Georgetown, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

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