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Originally published Dec. 17, 2021; updated Dec. 22, 2022.

Christmastime can be a paradox in terms of waste — lots of things we keep, like gifts and good memories, but also lots of things we throw away, like boxes and old lights. Here’s a guide to rebalancing that equation and recycling more this holiday season, with some waste reduction tips at the end.

This list is as complete and up-to-date as possible but might not be comprehensive. We’ll keep adding to it as we get more information.

Trees

Live, non-artificial trees can be dropped off at multiple centers as long as the trees are completely free of lights, tinsel and other decorations:

  • Bentonville Compost Facility (city residents only): 2000 NW A St.
  • Benton County Solid Waste District¬†(through Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023): 5702 Brookside Road, Centerton, 8-11 a.m. and 12-3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
  • Eureka Springs: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge takes trees for the animals to play with at 239 Turpentine Creek Lane.
  • Fayetteville Compost and Mulch Facility (city residents only): 1708 S. Armstrong Ave.
  • Prairie Grove: Boston Mountain Solid Waste District accepts trees from Washington and Madison county residents as bulky waste ($10 minimum fee) at 11398 Bond Road (also takes cardboard and lights; see below).
  • Rogers Yard Waste Facility (city residents only): 2307 N. Arkansas St.
  • The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will accept trees until the end of January to use as fish habitat in local waterways. The locations are:
    • Beaver Lake at the Highway 12 access, the Don Roufa Highway 412 access and the Monte Ne boat ramp access.
    • Bob Kidd Lake‘s boat ramp access.
    • Crystal Lake‘s boat ramp access.
    • Lake Elmdale‘s boat ramp access.
    • Lake Fayetteville‘s boat ramp access.

Some curbside trash programs will also pick up trees, at least for a limited time. If you’re unsure, check with your hauler directly.

  • Fayetteville will pick up live trees on the same day as regular trash collection through January.

Holiday lights

The metal wire and other materials in lights can be recycled, but whatever you do, don’t put them in your recycle bin. Take them to locations such as:

Other electronics

Get a fancy new computer or TV for Christmas and need to get rid of the old one? Consider donating to your local reuse store, or recycle it at a location like eSCO; the Benton County Solid Waste District in Centerton, Rogers and Siloam Springs; or Boston Mountain Solid Waste District in Prairie Grove.

Electronics recycling often requires a small fee, but Washington and Madison county residents can take them to Boston Mountain for free between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30.

Cardboard

All curbside programs in Northwest Arkansas take cardboard, as do several drop-off centers scattered throughout Benton, Washington and Madison counties. Here’s a guide to those drop-off center locations and hours.

Because of the sheer volume of gift boxes and concerns that piles of new items’ boxes outside of homes might attract the interest of thieves, the Boston Mountain Solid Waste District has also partnered with local police departments to provide several additional 24-7 cardboard trailers until Jan. 15:

  • Elkins Community Center, 162 Doolin Drive.
  • Farmington Police Department, 354 W. Main St.
  • Johnson Police Department, 2904 Main Drive.
  • Lincoln¬†Fire Department, 104 Arthur Ave. S.
  • Prairie Grove‘s Boston Mountain drop-off, 11398 Bond Road.
  • Springdale¬†Police Department, 201 Spring St.

Wrapping paper

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer on whether wrapping paper is recyclable.

Some recycling programs take it, but only the plain paper kind — no glitter, no ribbons, no shiny metallic foil. Other programs aren’t interested because wrapping paper is generally a low grade of paper, with weak and short fibers that can’t be reused much more.

Our recommendation: Recycle only plain wrapping paper only if your program wants it, and check out the waste reduction tips below to avoid the issue.

Other holiday tips

  • Reduce the waste under your tree by choosing reusable packaging, such as gift bags, baskets, even scarves for wrapping. The same idea goes for holiday get-togethers, such as with reusable cups and cutlery.
  • For what can’t be reused, try to stick to recyclables, such as by using newspaper as cushioning in bags or boxes and by taking plastic shopping bags to your local grocery store that accepts them.
  • If you’re trashing an artificial tree that won’t fit in your garbage cart, search online for your city or waste district’s “bulky waste” program.