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Know before you throw this holiday season!

Holiday lights entanglement picture

‘Tis the holiday season and during this joyous time of year the team at Outagamie County Recycling and Solid Waste (OCRSW) are reminding residents to “recycle right.”

“This is a time of year when we see an influx of items placed in curbside recycling bins that shouldn’t be,” said OCRSW Solid Waste Superintendent Greg Parins. “This includes such items as gift-wrapping paper and many holiday decorations. Some items such as holiday lights and Styrofoam used in gift packaging are recyclable but need to be dropped off at our facility and not placed in your curbside recycle bin.”

A friendly reminder for everyone this year is to stay informed about what can and can’t be recycled and to know what materials should be brought to OCRSW. Among the items that should be placed in your curbside recycle bin include:

  • Cardboard & paperboard
  • Newspapers & inserts
  • Office & school paper
  • Envelopes, junk mail & catalogs
  • Milk, juice & soup cartons
  • Household bottles, jars & jugs
  • Dairy containers & lids
  • Produce, bakery & deli containers
  • Aluminum bottles & cans
  • Steel & tin cans
  • Glass Food & Beverage Bottles & Jars

Items that shouldn’t be placed in your curbside recycle bin include:

  • Holiday lights*
  • Styrofoam products*
  • Plastic bags, wraps & films
  • Plastic cups or lids
  • Foiled or glittered wrapping paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Batteries*
  • Propane tanks**
  • Paint & Paint cans**
  • Aerosol cans**
  • Window glass
  • Scrap metal
  • Pet food bags
  • Textiles (i.e. clothes – consider donating if they are new or gently used.)

*For holiday lights and Styrofoam and batteries, OCRSW offers drop off collection at its Resource Recovery Park, 1919 Holland Road, Appleton, WI 54911.

**Hazardous materials are not acceptable in your curbside recycling or trash. Hazardous materials should be brought to our Tri-County Recycling partner, Brown County Resource Recovery at 2561 S. Broadway in Green Bay. Residential drop-off hours are: Tuesdays: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and Thursdays: noon – 6:00 p.m. A disposal fee may apply.

“Holiday lights are especially problematic when placed in curbside recycling as the light strands easily jam up our sorting equipment causing us to shut down to remove the entanglement,” Parins explains. “Instead, please deliver lights and Styrofoam to our Recovery Park and we’ll ensure they are recycled.”

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To learn more and for a complete list of do’s and don’ts for curbside recycling, please visit our website at https://www.recyclemoreoutagamie.org/residential-recycling/ or scan this QR code to launch our “Waste Wizard” website tool. With this tool, you can search the item you inquiring about and it will tell you whether it’s recyclable or if it should be placed in the trash. 


OCRSW operates the landfill and recycling facilities for Outagamie County and the 65 member communities it serves. It operates to provide the communities with exceptional materials management and educational services using safe and environmentally sound operational practices. OCRSW is also part of the Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago counties Tri-county agreement known as the BOW Intergovernmental Solid Waste Disposal Agreement. This commits the three counties to work together to coordinate waste disposal, using each county’s existing landfill capacities and future landfill developments while sharing administration and operations costs. The partnership stabilizes operating costs while meeting the waste management and recycling needs of the 65 communities and more than 600,000 residents in our service areas.