KNOXVILLE, TN (December 2020) – It’s no surprise: Americans throw away more trash during the holiday season than any other time of the year. But did you know that the glut of Christmas garbage totals a whopping 25 million extra tons each year?
The City of Knoxville’s Waste and Resources Management Office can help. Check out this guide for holiday waste reduction:www.knoxvilletn.gov/recyclingguide.
The guide details what can and cannot be recycled, what to do with old holiday lights (even strands that no longer work), and how to dispose of that dry Christmas tree come January.
Try to repurpose materials such as wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, tags, cardboard boxes, and greeting cards. If you can’t then consider recycling them in your curbside cart or take them to a recycling drop-off center.
Reusing materials – especially those that can’t be recycled, like bows and ribbons – can make a huge collective impact. A recent Stanford University study found that reusing gift ribbons could tie a 38,000-mile bow that would more than wrap around the entire planet.
Cookie tins can be recycled if they’re clean and dry. But if they’re in good shape, why not reuse them – or donate them to be repurposed?
Good news! It is not necessary to remove staples or tape from items placed in recycle bins.
Some items cannot be recycled. This includes holiday ribbons and bows, wrapping materials lined with plastic or decorated with glitter, and any Styrofoam packaging (like peanuts or Styrofoam blocks).
You can deflate plastic air pillows, and recycle them, along with shipping material, plastic bags, and bubble wrap and drop-off at area grocery stores. These items should not be placed in your curbside bin or at drop-off centers.
Old or unwanted Christmas lights? Almost all donation stores take working holiday lights. In fact, holiday decorations of all varieties are welcome at donation stores. You can take them to any Goodwill donation store for recycling – or give them to a Goodwill attendant at any City recycling drop-off center (8 a.m.-8 p.m.).
Lights can also be given to an attendant at any Knox County convenience center, or they can be dropped off at the City of Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste facility, 1033 Elm St.
To dispose of a Christmas tree after the holidays, simply remove lights and decorations, and place it street-side for collection. Christmas trees, like leaves and brush, are delivered to Living Earth, where they are mulched and composted, to live again in various yard products the company markets and sells.
Living Earth provides the City of Knoxville with up to 1,000 cubic yards of hardwood mulch and 200 cubic yards of playground mulch annually for City horticulture crews to use to landscape public beds and parks.
Note that Public Service Department crews are concentrating on leaf collection this time of year, so brush is not collected on the regular two-week schedule followed during most of the year.
City residents can also take advantage of Knox County’s Tree-Cycling program and bring unwanted Christmas trees to any Knox County convenience center for free disposal throughout January. The trees will live again, repurposed in mulch, and saved from rotting in a landfill.
From Jan. 2 to Jan. 31, Knox County residents can bring their unwanted, live Christmas trees to participating Knox County Convenience Centers for free disposal at no cost.
Knox County operates the following convenience centers:
- Carter (8815 Asheville Highway)
- Dutchtown (10618 Dutchtown Road)
- Halls (3608 Neal Drive)
- John Sevier (1950 W. Gov. John Sevier Highway)
- Karns (6930 Karns Crossing Lane)
- Powell (7311 Morton View Lane)
- Tazewell Pike (7201 Tazewell Pike)
Before dropping off, trees must be cleaned of all decorations including, but not limited to ornaments, wire, string, and Christmas lights before being delivered to a Convenience Center.
Any non-working tree lights can be recycled with electronics at the Dutchtown, Halls, John Sevier, or Karns Convenience Centers. More information can be found here.
No other green waste or tree limbs will be collected. Additionally, fake trees are considered bulky waste and garland and wreaths mounted on wires should be thrown in the trash.
Normal hours of operation for all Knox County Convenience Centers are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Centers are closed on Sundays. All centers will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1 in observance of New Year’s Day, but will be open and following normal business hours on Saturday, Jan. 2.
Please note that the centers may experience significant wait times following a holiday closure. Center users are urged, if possible, to postpone their regular waste trip until Tuesday or Wednesday the following week when centers are less busy.
For more information, please call the Solid Waste offices at 865-215-5865.