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After the presents are unwrapped, what can you put at the curb for recycling?

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The sorting line at the Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority's recycling center. (File photo)

There are few times in the year when we put more stuff at the curb for recycling than after the holidays. But, often there’s a little confusion about what’s recyclable.

Top of the list of things not to put in the recycling bin is your old electronics or e-waste. This link will take you to the Michigan Electronic Waste Takeback Program’s FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
A loader preparing trash for sorting to retrieve recyclable material at SOCRRA. (File photo)

Among the old electronics you definitely should not put in the recycling bin is those Christmas tree lights that stopped working. A recent Free Press news story revealed how they can get tangled up in the machinery at the recyclables sorting center.

Probably the most readily recyclable thing is the thing you probably have stacked up: cardboard. Make sure you remove any tape and break down the boxes.

Wrapping paper is fine as long as it’s not foil and doesn't have glitter. No ribbons or bows. They can also tangle up the recycling center’s machinery.

According to the Michigan Recycling Coalition, one ton of recycled paper takes 64 percent less energy than producing new paper as well as creating 74 percent less air pollution. See more about that here.

Michigan is the worst of the Great Lakes states in its recycling rate. But, new laws going into effect should make recycling better and easier in the state.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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