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Holiday recycling: No to wrapping paper, gift bags & tissue paper

Just because an item has a recycle symbol on it doesn't mean it can be recycled....really!

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Yes, there really is a nice list and a naughty list.
The good news is, you can go from the naughty list to the nice list simply by knowing what NOT to put in your recycling bin.

“The contamination rate is around 36% right now which is high. When we have contamination it slows down the process, it lowers the value of the recycling and it can hurt the machinery at the recycling center,” said Masey DeMoss, City of Greensboro Recycling & Waste Reduction Educator.

To stay on the nice list, don't contaminate the machines.


Gift boxes, envelopes, shoe boxes, cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, and metal food and drink cans.

Seems simple enough, but the paper needs more explanation.

“Not all paper is the same, and that could get a little confusing, but that's why we're here to clear things up. Tissue paper is a no for recycling. Gift boxes are ok, but gift bags are not. Everything that is on the box is not recyclable.  Wrapping paper is not recyclable, it has glitter or foil or it's too thin to recycle. The ribbons and bows and the name sticker are not recyclable,” said DeMoss.

So often, we see a recycle symbol on something and think it belongs in the recycling bin, but this symbol actually means the item is made from recycled materials, not that it is recyclable.

“A lot of wishcycling happens, where we wish and hope that it is recyclable, and that causes contamination problems for us,” said DeMoss.


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