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By Gig Conaughton
San Diego County Communications Office 

Giving, receiving, recycling


Last updated 1/2/2020 at 12:47am

The gifts! The wrapping! The packages! The lights! Even the trees!

The holiday season brings lots of stuff – lots of stuff that can be recycled. San Diego County knows with all the shopping, visiting and preparing, residents probably haven’t had a minute to think about recycling.

So, this holiday season, the county Department of Public Works’ Recycling Division has some recycling tips to help them out.

Christmas trees

Everyone loves their beautiful Christmas trees, but if the family has a real tree, there comes a time when they have to say goodbye. And the county urged everyone to recycle their real trees properly.

Check with the local waste hauler to find out if they offer curbside pickup – many do. Or go to the county’s recycling and hazardous waste database,, to find Christmas tree drop-off sites nearby. Residents can type “Christmas tree” in the “find an item” box, add their ZIP code, community and how they heard about the site, and they’ll see all the drop-off locations near them.

Don’t leave that old, dry tree or wreaths lying in the backyard. They can become fire hazards. Putting them in the trash takes up space in landfills and generates unwanted greenhouse gases when they decompose.

Properly recycled trees and wreaths can be turned into mulch that will improve soil health and help soil retain moisture at parks, farms, home gardens and landscapes.

Know what packaging can – and can’t – be recycled

Gift-giving and online shopping typically means lots of packaging. Not all packaging can be safely recycled. For example, cardboard boxes can be recycled – just break them down and put them into the recycling. But manila envelopes and Bubble Wrap cannot be recycled. So do not put them in the recycling bins; consider reusing them instead.

Christmas and holiday card recycling

Like packaging materials, not all holiday cards should be added to your recycling. Simple paper cards and envelopes can be added to the blue bins.

But if the cards have glitter, foil or metallic inks, which are inks made with tiny metal flakes, or other adornments, they can’t. If there’s a glitzy front and plain paper backing, tear the cards in two. Recycle the backs and put the glitzy fronts into the trash.

Holiday light recycling

Please – don’t put old holiday lights in the recycling bins. They can tangle up recycling equipment, and they also pose a danger to workers in those recycling centers. For recycling options, visit, contact a scrap metal or e-waste recycler or ask for options at the local home improvement store.

So, there you have it. Remember, if you have other questions about what can and can’t be recycled, go to


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