Cleaning up after Christmas: What's recyclable and what's not

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- Just outside the Waste Management station on Commercial Row, folks are pulling up and dropping off old appliances they don't need any more now that they got new ones for Christmas. Eddy Swainston knows it's a an easy way to get rid of his old stove without the hassle of going to the dump. And it's free.

"You don't have to wait in line, so I mean anybody that has metal, you just pull up, drop it off and you go," says Swainston. "No paperwork, no muss, no fuss."

Most of that scrap metal can be recycled as well as a lot of other holiday trash. Things like broken down cardboard boxes and tissue paper. But there are a lot of things that cannot go into the single stream recycling bin outside of your home. For instance, certain wrapping paper.

"If you have a plain wrapping paper, you can put that into recycling, but if it has plastic or foil, it can't be separated in that single-stream process, so that should definitely go in your trash can," says Kendra Kostelecky, Communications Specialist for Waste Management.

In addition, there are some small holiday items that can cause big problems at the Reno facility that processes recyclables. On this day after Christmas, workers had to shut down the line because something got wrapped around the machinery that sorts the recyclables. It's an occurrence that is pretty common after the holidays when people mistakenly try to recycle ribbon or string lighting.

"We can't separate that in single-stream. That should actually go into your trash," says Kostelecky.

This time of year, it's easy to have excess waste. Just make sure that if you have items that don't fit into your trash and recycling bins, you use those "excess waste" stickers from Waste Management. If you don't, crews may may not pick up those items on your curb.

Also, if you are trying to get rid of your Christmas tree -- real or fake -- Kostelecky says don't put it in the recycling bin. She says if you have a fake tree, try to break it down into smaller pieces and put it into the trash bin. If you have a real tree, you should cut it up into three-foot pieces and put those into the trash bin. If you cannot fit those tree pieces in the trash bin, you can put them near your trash with the Waste Management excess waste stickers on them.

Kostelecky also has a reminder that every resident in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County has four free dumps per year to use at their convenience during normal business hours. Reno residents must use the transfer station for those dump days while Sparks and Washoe County can dump at the transfer station or the landfill. She says that could be another option for people this time of year who collected a lot of waste over the holidays.