P.E.I.'s Island Waste Management Corporation is looking ahead to a difficult few weeks sifting through improperly sorted waste from the holiday season.

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Picking all the ribbons out on the sorting line can be difficult, says Heather Myers. (CBC)

Christmas wrap is a big problem for IWMC, because a lot of plastic ribbons and bows end up in compost bags. The wrap is destined for composting, but the ribbons cause problems.

"It certainly does complicate things if things are mixed up," said IWMC disposal manager Heather Myers.

"The organics go to the central compost facility for processing, so if there's plastic in there, then the plastic doesn't break down. And it's very difficult for the staff to pull it all out in the sorting line."

Plastic contamination can reduce the quality of the final composted product.

Compost is the right bin for most wrapping paper, said Myers, because it's already heavily processed and can't be recycled. But anything with plastic or foil should end up in the trash.

Too many still burning

Fire officials on the Island are keen to make people aware of an even more serious issue.

North River Fire Chief Kirby Wakelin said some people are still burning the packaging, and he said that can potentially have fatal consequences.

"It really causes a lot of creosote within the chimneys," he said.

"Everybody knows what it leads to: a flue fire."

Wakelin said sending the wrap off for composting is a much safer alternative.

For mobile device users: How careful are you about sorting your trash at Christmas time?