Your Christmas trash sorting guide for P.E.I., 2020 version

So you've opened the presents and your living room is a sea of wrapping paper, ribbons and cardboard. Now what?

Among other things, IWMC will have a list of goat farms where you can donate your tree

Quick answers to seasonal questions when it comes to sorting holiday waste on P.E.I.

9 months ago
Island Waste Management Corporation CEO Gerry Moore talked to CBC's John Robertson on sorting waste that turns up during the holiday season. 1:30

So you've opened the presents and your living room is a sea of wrapping paper, ribbons and cardboard.

Now what?

Island Waste Management hopes you will resist the temptation to throw it all together and drop it at the curb.

After all, nobody likes to see that orange rejection sticker on their bins or blue bags.

Island Waste Management's Heather Myers checked our garbage list twice for accuracy. Here's what to do with some common Christmas items.

Wrapping paper

It's compost unless it has plastic or foil on it. Then it's waste.

Greeting cards

Greeting cards are compost unless they have plastic, foil, ribbons, or other waste items on the cards, in which case the entire card goes in the waste.  

If the greeting card has a battery, remove the battery and recycle it at a recycling collection location.

Cards can be tricky: they are compost, unless they have ribbon or other embellishments, then they are waste. (Neil Hyde photo)

Gift bags

If they're shiny with a plastic coating, they're waste.

But, Myers said, "if you have a gift bag that is brown paper with brown paper handles, that can be recycled so it can go with your corrugated cardboard or blue bag number one."

Brown paper packaging

This is recyclable, and can go with corrugated cardboard or in a blue bag.

Brown paper goes in a blue bag for recycling. (Environmental Defence)

Ribbons, bows and tinsel

Waste, waste and waste.

Ribbon goes into the black waste bin. (Getty Images)

Tissue paper

Compost, even if it has traces of glitter.

"We will accept that small amount of contamination on it," Myers said.

Save tissue paper to make suncatchers with your kids or grandkids. (Dyan Robson/CBC)

Bubble wrap

No recycling number on it? Put it in the waste. (After you've popped it, of course).


Boxboard? Think cereal boxes or frozen pizza boxes.

"The difference is with corrugated cardboard you have the two flat layers with the wavy layer in the centre," Myers said.

Put boxboard in the compost, while its cousin corrugated cardboard goes in recycling.

Clementine boxes

It might be tempting to put these wooden boxes in the compost, but don't. They go in waste. The clementines and their peelings can go in compost, though.

The empty clementine box goes in the black bin — unlike the clementine peelings, which go in the green bin. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Christmas lights

If there is a plastic cover over the lights, and it doesn't have a recycling number on it, pull it off and put it in waste.

The rest goes in the recycling blue bag, bulb or no bulb.

"If you can get the bulb out, take the bulbs out and take them to the Waste Watch drop-off centre for light bulb recycling," Myers said. "If they won't come out, leave them with the string of lights and put them in blue bag number two for recycling."

Christmas lights go in blue bag number two to be recycled. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Christmas tree

Curbside collection for Christmas trees starts Jan. 11 this year. And keep in mind, Myers said, that it may not be collected on the same day as regular garbage pickup.

Anyone whose religious traditions will be affected by the pickup date are encouraged to call IWMC for arrangements. For example, some Islanders may be celebrating Orthodox Christmas Jan. 7.

Here are the rules for discarded Christmas trees: No ornaments on them, no tinsel, no tree heavier than 50 pounds or longer than eight feet. If it's longer than eight feet, you can cut it in half.

"Make sure the tree isn't stuck in snow or covered with snow so the drivers can access it," Myers said.

If goat farmers would like trees delivered to their operation by the general public, they can contact IWMC to register. 

The public can check out IWMC's list of registered farmers on its website, and arrange to deliver their trees directly to the farmer if they wish. 

Once stripped of ornaments, lights and tinsel, your tree can be a delicious treat for goats. (Jennifer Brooker)

More from CBC P.E.I.


  • An earlier version of this story said greeting cards can be recycled. In fact, they should be composted.
    Dec 31, 2020 3:48 PM AT


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