Recycling what Christmas left behind

Recycling Council of British Columbia has some advise on how to clean up the mess Christmas left behind.

Can you recycle that shiny wrapping paper? Do you need to cut up your tree? Find out from the expert

Wrapping paper that is 100 per cent paper or can be torn is recyclable. (CBC)

British Columbians can produce up to three times as much garbage during Christmas as they would in a normal week, according to the Recycling Council of B.C. 

So it's no wonder that some of us may be staring at a big pile of mess in our living rooms or garages and wondering what to do with it all now. 

Harv Ajuala, information services manager with the Recycling Council of B.C. has some advice for those looking to tackle the post-Christmas mess in a green manner. 

1. Wrapping paper

If the wrapping paper is 100 per cent paper, it's recyclable. If there is foil, cellophane or lots of glitter it goes into the garbage. The quick test is to see if you can tear the wrapping paper or not. 

"Think of a magazine that is glossy and shiny and that is recyclable. If it's shiny, it's recyclable as long as it's not metallic or foil," said Aujala.  

2. Christmas lights

Don't chuck the lights. They fall under a recycling light fixtures program and can be dropped off at a recycling depot for free. 

"Now we can recycle the bulbs, not just the strings," said Aujala.

3. Christmas trees

There are plenty of Christmas tree-chipping events around the province. The City of Vancouver will even pick up your Christmas tree if you leave it on the curb during the week of Jan. 16. 

"Double-check [with the city's website] and make sure what the requirements are," said Aujala.

She says some municipalities require the trees to be chopped up in the green bin, while others will take it whole.

But either way, do not bag your Christmas tree, and make sure there is no tinsel, ornaments or other decorations left on your tree.

"Make sure it's out in the open," she said, "and take your tree naked." 

4. Electronics

If you've scored some new gadgets and need to get rid of your old ones, there are a few options.

"If the old stuff is working, give our recycling hotline a call and we can tell you if any charities can take it," she said.

If not, they can be recycled for free at a depot. 

5. No idea?

If you can't figure out if the item is recyclable, call 604-RECYCLE or 1-800-667-4321 before you chuck it to see what recycling or reuse options are available.

To listen to the full interview click the audio labelled How to recycle what Christmas left behind on the CBC's The Early Edition.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.