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'Tis the Season to Recycle Right

It may be a little bit confusing at first, but just because something is made of paper or plastic does not mean it can be recycled. Willa DiCostanzo, the Waste Diversion Coordinator for the City of Lincoln, wants citizens to give everyone involved in the recycling process the gift of putting the right items into your recycling bin this holiday season!

Did you know that everything you put in a recycling bin is loaded on a conveyor belt and is initially separated by hand at a recycling processing center? Staff review the material on the fast-moving conveyor belt and remove the non-recyclable material they see — such as plastic film, dirty containers, bagged recyclable items, and tangling items (absolutely no hoses, holiday lights, broken toys, or ribbons and bows). There is so much more to the recycling process than one might think.


What About the Wrap?

Holiday gift wrapping can be a fun tradition; however, it is important to think about where that wrapping goes after its one-time use.

While some wrapping paper can be recycled, most wrapping paper cannot. To help you navigate this holiday cheer, here is a list for you:


Cannot be recycled

  • Sparkles, Glitter, Sequins, Foil, Artificially Textured Paper 
  • Sticky Gift Labels
  • Plastic Paper
  • Leftover Tape
  • Ribbons or Bows


Can be recycled

  • Easy-to-Tear, Non-Glitter Wrapping Paper 
  • Non-Laminated Wrapping Paper 
  • Kraft Paper


If you’re still unsure about what tissue or wrapping paper is recyclable, there’s an easy and fast way to check. You can do a “scrunch test” by squeezing the paper into a ball. If it keeps the ball shape and follows the other rules above, then it can be recycled. If it springs back to a flat form, then it can’t be recycled. 


A Gift to the Earth

With all the holiday buzz let’s not forget the principle of reducing and reusing to minimize our impact on the environment. The glitz and the glitter are pretty but you can start a new holiday tradition by reducing the need to buy new paper and instead reuse newspapers, maps, old posters, fabric, gift boxes, and children’s school artwork as wrapping paper. Even decorating Kraft paper is a way to get everyone excited about the gift-giving season.

For questions about what is and is not recyclable, visit recycle.lincoln.ne.gov search the “What Bin Does It Go In?” tool to help you navigate reducing waste this holiday season. You can also call the City of Lincoln Recycling Hotline at (402) 441-8215.   

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