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November 22, 2023

Thanksgiving Waste Reduction Tips and Recycling Reminders

Did you know that in the United States, over 200 million pounds (or 100,000 tons) of turkey meat is thrown out during the week of Thanksgiving? Turkey Day is almost here, and with that comes a round of waste reduction tips and recycling reminders from the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (Authority)!

Cartons: Cartons like those that contain broth, juice, milk or cream can be rinsed and placed in your curbside recycling bin. Sorters at the Recycling Center pull cartons off of the line to separate them from the rest of the recyclables. After this, cartons are baled and marketed to recycling mills. Once they reach the recycling mill, the cartons’ waxy outer coating is removed, and their paper fibers can then be recycled.

Aluminum Foil: Aluminum foil sheets and trays can be recycled in your curbside bin as long as they are free of any food residue. Aluminum is separated out at the recycling center by an Eddy current, which is the opposite of how a magnet works. The Eddy current repulses aluminum foil off of the conveyor belt and into its own bin where it waits to be baled and marketed.

Cooking Oil: Cooking oil is recyclable even after it has been used. You can place your cooking oil in an unbreakable, leak-proof container no larger than five gallons and bring it to the Utica EcoDrop for recycling. This facility is open Monday-Friday 8am-4pm and Saturday 7am-2pm. Please do not dispose of cooking oil down the drain or in your curbside recycling bin. The cooking oil that is brought to the Utica EcoDrop is picked up by a rendering company that processes it into animal feed.

Cardboard Boxes: Cardboard boxes that go in your refrigerator or freezer are not recyclable. This is because they have a chemical in them that keeps them from breaking down if they get wet. Recycling mills are not able to remove this chemical from the paper fibers that make up the cardboard, therefore they are a garbage item. Boxes that go in your pantry can be placed in your curbside recycling bin.

Leftovers/Food Waste: After the big feast, try to share, freeze or compost whatever food is leftover! Food waste is approximately 22% of the waste stream that ends up in the landfill. Instead of putting food waste in your garbage, you can bring it to the Utica EcoDrop so it can be disposed of at our Food2Energy Facility. Here, your food waste will be turned into electricity instead of going to the landfill!

Other Recyclables: Don't forget about all the other everyday recyclable items you may come across this Thanksgiving! This includes plastic cups, glass jars, paper bags, metal cans and plastic containers!

“Thinking of that staggering number of 200 million pounds of turkey being wasted after everyone’s Thanksgiving celebrations really puts things into perspective,” says Authority Recycling Coordinator Eileen Brinck. “Let’s all be more thankful for what we have this year and choose to waste less! Whether its through sending family members home with leftovers or buying less in the first place, we can all find a way to do our part,” she continued.

All Authority facilities will be closed for the holiday on Thursday, November 23, 2023. Regular business hours will resume on Friday, November 24, 2023.

Have questions on recycling or how to reduce your waste this Thanksgiving? Contact the Authority at 315-733-1224 or Information and other resources can also be found on the Authority’s website and on the Authority’s Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn pages.