December 16, 2021

Tis The Season To Recycle

The holiday season is a time of giving and sharing with family and friends. While enjoying these traditions, you can also take steps to “green” your holidays. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans generate an additional 1 million tons of garbage every week. Fortunately, many opportunities are available for residents of Oneida and Herkimer Counties to keep holiday celebrations environmentally friendly.

“Purchasing gifts, cooking holiday meals or decorating your home is likely to leave you with some waste that you are not sure how to properly dispose of. The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (Authority) would like to offer reminders for proper recycling of Holiday items and some tips to reduce waste this season,” said Samantha Brown, Authority Recycling Coordinator.

Wrapping paper is only accepted for recycling during the two weeks following Christmas. To recycle holiday gift wrap, fold or flatten the gift wrap and place it loosely in your recycling container. Gift wrap cannot be placed in plastic bags for recycling. Cardboard tubes from gift wrap may also be placed in your recycling container. Tissue paper and foil or metallic wrapping paper are not accepted for recycling and should be placed in your regular garbage. Ribbons and bows are also not accepted for recycling. Always consider reusing wrapping paper and ribbons before disposal. If every family in the US wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, the paper saved would be enough to cover 45,000 football fields.   

Holiday greeting cards are recyclable. Place greeting cards, catalogs, gift boxes and other recyclable paper in with your regular recyclables. These items can be recycled all year long. Styrofoam and packing peanuts are not recyclable and should be placed with your regular trash.

Holiday lights should be stored for use again next year. Broken or unwanted holiday lights cannot be placed in your recycling bin. The CNY Veterans Outreach Center is again accepting donations of old holiday lights. The lights will be recycled and proceeds will go towards services for Veterans and their families. The CNY Veterans Outreach Center is located at 726 Washington Street in Utica and is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM – 3:30 PM for drop offs. To schedule a large pickup of lights, call CNY Veteran’s Outreach at (315) 765-0975. You may also deliver holiday lights to the Authority’s Utica or Rome EcoDrops for proper recycling at no charge or dispose of them with your regular trash. Other types of electronic waste, such as computers and televisions, are also accepted at the Authority’s Utica and Rome EcoDrops year-round, at no charge.

The Authority’s Compost Facility allows this region increased recycling opportunities, including Christmas tree recycling. Contact your local municipality to see what the collection schedule is for Christmas trees. If your municipality does not have a collection schedule, residents can deliver live trees for composting to the Authority’s Utica EcoDrop. “Make sure all decorations and tinsel are removed. Christmas wreaths should be disposed of with your regular garbage. Real and artificial wreaths are held together with wire and plastic, so they cannot be composted,” said Brown.

Residents in Oneida and Herkimer Counties also have the capability to recycle leftover cooking oil and kitchen grease. Residents are able to drop-off cooking oil and kitchen grease at the Utica EcoDrop year-round, at no charge. Residents should transport used oils or grease in sealed, unbreakable, leak-proof containers. The material is then collected and recycled into animal feed.

If every family in the US reused just two feet of holiday ribbon each year, the 38,000 miles of ribbon could tie a bow around the Earth. “In order to close the recycling loop, we need to buy recycled products and reuse as much as we can,” stated Brown. “While shopping for gifts, purchase items like gift boxes, wrapping paper and greeting cards that are made with recycled paper. If you can, switch to cloth ribbons that can be reused from year to year, or wrap your presents in newspaper. With a little pre-cycling, waste reduction and proper recycling of the materials we generate, we can all make our holidays a little greener,” Brown concluded.

Authority facilities will be closed on Christmas Day (Saturday, December 25th) and New Years Day (Saturday, January 1st), and we will be operating regular business hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

If you are not sure how to properly recycle or dispose of an item, the Authority encourages residents to visit its easy-to-use tool at to search hundreds of different items and learn all the answers. When non-acceptable items are placed in the recycling bin, they interfere with the recycling of acceptable items. 

For more information on recycling and waste disposal, please contact Authority Recycling Coordinator Samantha Brown at (315) 733-1224 ext. 2800 or visit You may also ask questions and find more information on the Authority’s Facebook page (Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority).