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Christmastime can be a paradox in terms of waste — lots of things we keep, like gifts and good memories with loved ones, 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 bottom.

This list is as complete as possible but might not be comprehensive, and 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.
  • 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.

Some curbside trash programs will also accept 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 until Jan. 15.
  • Rogers residents can have trees picked up by Orion Waste Solutions on their normal pickup day during the week of Jan. 10-14, but call 479-878-1384 a week ahead of time to give them notice.

Holiday lights

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:

  • Fayetteville‘s Marion Orton Recycling Drop-Off at 735 W. North St.
  • Huntsville: the Madison County Solid Waste & Recycling Center at 173 Madison 6553.
  • Prairie Grove: Boston Mountain Solid Waste District accepts lights at 11398 Bond Road (also takes cardboard and trees; see other sections).
  • Rogers: eSCO Processing & Recycling accepts lights at 2111 S. 8th St.
  • Springdale‘s drop-off center at 1809 Lowell Road.

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 theft, 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 City Hall, 354 W. Main St.
  • Fayetteville‘s drop-off centers at 735 W. North St. and 1420 S. Happy Hollow Road.
  • Greenland‘s drop-off center at 170 N. Letitia Ave.
  • Johnson Police Department, 2904 Main Drive.
  • Prairie Grove‘s Boston Mountain drop-off, 11398 Bond Road.
  • West Fork Renewable Resource Center, 141 Campbell Road.

Wrapping paper

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

Places such as Fayetteville will accept it in their regular recycling programs, but only the plain paper kind — no glitter, no ribbons, no shiny metallic foil.

Wrapping paper is generally a low grade of paper, however, with weak and short fibers that can’t be reused much more, in contrast to the sturdier stuff in cardboard and office paper. Because of this, some recycling programs turn away wrapping paper altogether to protect the high quality of their paper stream (and the higher selling price and greater environmental benefit that come with it).

The Rogers drop-off center, for example, has a receptacle for wrapping paper, but only because they expect so much to come in, including when no staff are around, and want to keep it away from the rest of the paper. It will end up in the trash.

Our recommendation: Recycle only plain wrapping paper, and if you’re taking it to a staffed drop-off center, call ahead to ask if they want it. Check out the waste reduction tips below to reduce the problem, too.

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.