Recycling Know-No’s: Holiday Edition


In these trying times in the recycling world, we want to review what to do with the various holiday items and materials. So here’s a quick review of what holiday items can and cannot be recycled.

The easy one is catalogs. They can be recycled.

Other items that can be recycled are:

  • Air Pillows: The UPS Store on Great Road will take them and reuse them. The pillows can also be deflated and recycled at grocery or department stores with plastic shopping bags. Bubble wrap can be recycled at retail stores with plastic bags and other film products. Padded envelopes with bubble wrap on the inside should go in the trash cart.
  • Holiday paper goods: Greeting cards and the accompanying envelopes along with paper gift bags can be recycled as long as there are no metallic inks, foil, wire, or glitter. Otherwise, put them in the trash. Remove the string handles on gift bags before placing them in your recycling cart.
  • Holiday cookie tins: These can be reused or recycled. Just eat all the cookies first and remove any cling wrap or waxed paper.

Items that belong in the trash cart and should never, ever be placed in your recycling cart include:

  • Styrofoam peanuts: The UPS Store on Great Road no longer accepts them. Put them in a bag and dispose of them in the trash, not the recycling bin.
  • Styrofoam: All Styrofoam should go in the trash. It is not accepted in the Town’s recycling program. The DPW has yet to find an economical and efficient way to recycle this material.
  • Party goods: Disposable plates, cups, cutlery, and napkins are a staple of many holiday get-togethers, but unfortunately, they cannot be recycled even if there is a number in the recycling triangle on the item. These items should go in the trash after you’re done with them.
  • Holiday lights. Somehow the string of lights you used last year isn’t working this year. Do not put any strings of lights in the recycling cart. Put them out with the trash. If you are motivated to find another life for these lights mail them to Christmas Light Source ( for recycling and get a coupon to use towards new holiday lights.

If you are unsure what to do with some item not listed here, visit the Recycle Smart website (, and use the Recyclopedia and Smart Recycling Guide.


ICYMI: Links to earlier columns

  1. Don’t Bag Recyclables
  2. Batteries
  3. Cartons
  4. Pizza Boxes
  5. Styrofoam
  6. Plastics
  7. Recyclopedia
  8. Rigid Plastic Blister Paks
  9. Found in the Bins
  10. Plastic Flower Pots
  11. Compost

Why Focus on Recycling?

Recycling is good.  It helps the environment, helps the town, and makes you feel you’re doing your part.  That being said, not all things are easy to recycle, no matter what you may think.  Putting your Styrofoam coffee cup or plastic plant pot in the bin might feel right, but is actually detrimental and costly to us in Bedford.  There are other things that fall into the category of “should” be recycled, but without understanding what happens “downstream,” your wishful thinking could end up causing more trouble.  You may not have been aware that all recycled material gets sorted, and one of the most cost-effective sorts happens at your bin. Understanding what happens after your recycling bucket has been collected can help make that downstream work easier.  Accordingly, we are embarking on a new series that hopefully will answer the “whys “ and “whats” of recycling here in Bedford.

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: or 781-325-8606

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