It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the city’s 29 public recycling sites early this week as people dropped off boxes that held toys, computers, vacuum cleaners and all those shipping containers from online orders.
The city expected a major increase in Christmas-related cardboard boxes being dropped off at city recycling sites since cardboard was banned at the landfill in April, and it wasn't disappointed.
But Lincoln residents who stopped by the city's recycling centers also dropped off Styrofoam packaging, glitter wrapping paper, bows, even bags of household trash, all of which will end up in the city landfill.
“We’ve seen an increase in household trash, and that is obviously not recyclable,” said Donna Garden, assistant director of Lincoln Transportation and Utilities.
The city’s expectation that cardboard collections would double after the April 1 landfill ban began has held true.
Cardboard collections began rising dramatically in April and peaked at 637,180 pounds in October. December numbers aren't yet available.
There are only certain things that can go into recycling containers.
Only the very plain, basic wrapping paper is recyclable, not metallic paper or paper with glitter. Ribbons and bows are not recyclable. Tissue paper can go in the mixed paper containers.
Styrofoam is not recyclable. Nor is furniture.
If people think that a chair they set out at the recycling site will be recycled, it won’t. It goes to the landfill, Garden said.
Christmas trees should not be dropped off at city recycling sites. The city operates six Christmas tree drop-off sites through Jan. 21, and the locations are listed on the city website, search "news releases."
And all cardboard boxes should be flattened so they will fit into the large recycling containers, Garden said.
“If in doubt about something, don’t put it into the recycle bin,” Garden said.
The city is encouraging people to "have some respect for the public recycling sites," a service the city provides. "Having all that trash being dumped is difficult," Garden said about the increase in trash at recycling sites during the past month.
Curbside recycling, available from every Lincoln garbage hauler, is convenient, said Holley Salmi, spokeswoman for the city's transportation department.
City staff beefed up its services with additional cardboard roll-offs at two of the major recycling centers, near Union College and the Super Saver at 27th Street and Pine Lake Road, anticipating holiday shopping, Garden said.
City staff also are putting in extra hours patrolling the eight largest recycling sites, and calling the hauler for additional service if roll-offs fill up, she said.
“So far, so good,” said Garden about the city sites during this Christmas week.
“We anticipated the amounts going up. Our own crews have been out to the sites more often. We have a really aggressive schedule for our collection service,” she said.