From the Christmas tree to the pile of gift wrap and packaging, Metro recycling expert Betty Shelley appeared on KATU's AM Northwest to help you double-check what goes in your home recycling bin, and share tips on how to reuse and recycle more – this year, and next.
Watch the video
Recycle your Christmas tree with your yard debris, through a local nonprofit or at facility that takes trees
- Residents with yard debris collection programs can recycle their trees through their yard debris collection service. Some tree recycling requirements and fees depend on where you live. Larger trees may need to be cut in half. If you aren’t sure what’s best, ask Metro at 503-234-3000.
- Many nonprofit organizations offer pickup services or drop-off locations where you can take Christmas trees and wreaths to be recycled for a small fee. Providing this service helps communities properly dispose of trees while raising money for worthwhile causes. Find a pickup service using Metro's “Find-a Recycler” online database.
- To prep your tree for recycling, remove all lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, stand and anything else that isn’t part of the original tree. Most trees are turned into wood chips or compost so nonorganic materials aren't good for these purposes and some can ruin a chipping machine.
- Christmas wreaths and swags can often be recycled with trees, but check first. Most recyclers ask that all frames and wire be removed.
Learn more about recycling your Christmas tree
Reuse and recycle what you can from the pile of holiday trash
- String lights are recycled for the copper in the wires, so you can drop them off at many depots, including Metro’s transfer stations, free of charge. Leave small bulbs on, but remove large bulbs.
- If you can’t reuse your tinsel (also known as icicles), it goes in the garbage bin.
- You can save your gift wrap for use next year, or it can go in your home recycling if it isn’t foil or plasticized. Before recycling, remove bows and ribbons.
- Tissue paper is also reusable. Otherwise it’s recyclable in your home recycling.
- Reuse bows to save a little money. Otherwise they are trash.
- Block Styrofoam is accepted for recycling at two depots in the Portland region. Otherwise it goes in the garbage bin.
- Save Styrofoam packing peanuts to use again or check with packaging stores who may reuse them. Otherwise they are garbage.
- Most types of plastic packaging, as well as plastic bags, cannot be recycled at home but some depots accept many types of plastic free of charge. Otherwise, it is trash.
Search items in Metro's recycler database
Next year, think ahead to cut down on what you use – and cut costs, too
- Avoid gift-wrap that isn’t recyclable or reusable. Reuse wrap, bows and gift bags, or make your own from paper you already have, like old maps or paper bags.
- Consider giving experiences like concert tickets, a dinner out, or items that aren’t packaged and will last, like a plant.
Learn more tips to reduce waste and cut costs at holiday time
Questions about which bin? Looking for a depot or a place to donate? Ask Metro. Use the Find a Recycler tool or talk to an expert at 503-234-3000.