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Green Christmas: How Edmonton families can waste less for the holidays

By Admin User on January 8, 2018

With the holiday season fast approaching, people are buying more food items, presents and gift wrap than normal. This leads to two times more waste being created during the holidays than any other time of the year.

Garbage from Edmonton at the Waste Management Centre

The Edmonton waste management Centre is the facility that deals with all of Edmonton’s waste and recyclables throughout the year, but recycling during the holidays has become somewhat of an issue.

Ismail Isse, the Product Supervisor for the Centre, explains what common items people confuse for recyclable materials.

Ismail Isse, Product Supervisor

“During the holidays we get a lot of Christmas lights as well as gift wrap – They tend to be the most mistaken items.” But Isse says when it comes to gift wrap it can get a little more complicated, as they come in many different varieties.

Isse urges everyone to take a closer look before recycling their holiday wrappings, which includes wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, bows, ribbons and boxes. But how exactly can people tell the difference between what to recycle and what to throw out?

Neil Burkard, the Public Education Specialist for the Edmonton waste management Centre, describes what the major difference is between various wrapping papers.

Left is non-recyclable, Right is recyclable

He says the left three wrapping paper samples have a shiny foil on them or are fully made up of foil, while the right samples have no trace of foil and feel almost like newspaper. He explains that any paper with foil is a mixed material and must be thrown out and that using newspaper or reusable bags is the safest way to go. Better yet, Burkard says to download the Edmonton WasteWise App to double-check what material goes where.

Neil Burkard explaining recycling during the Edmonton Waste Management tour.

“Make sure you leave the food in the garbage, don’t put food waste into the recycling. Another thing that is really important is to really use your Eco Stations. If you have any household hazardous waste or Christmas lights, please make sure they go to the Eco Station. If you have any old decorations that you no longer need and they are in good shape, you can take those to the Reuse Centre.”

He also says that doing small things like putting like materials together, separating lids and washing out containers before recycling are some things that help make sorting easier for the workers.

Workers sorting recyclable materials at Edmonton Waste Management Center

The City of Edmonton has even teamed up with former Oilers player, Andrew Ference, to make short videos that encourage Edmontonians to recycle during the holiday seasons.

Wasteless holidays with Andrew Ference. He loves to share with us, give an experience as opposed to giving gifts over the holidays because that way you give that gift of experience and not create waste,” says  Burkard. “We are all in waste together, and therefore we must all do our part to keep the holidays a waste-less season.”

Garbage blocks at Edmonton waste management Centre

The City of Edmonton released some helpful tips for having a green Christmas:

  • Donate any unused food items after the holidays
  • Keep leftovers instead of throwing food out
  • Recycle your real Christmas tree or buy one that you can plant after Christmas
  • Wrap presents in reusable materials

The city will also be running a Christmas Tree pick-up service to recycle real trees for composting and will be starting on Jan. 9, 2018.




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