Don't trash the holidays: CBS 58 stops by WM's recycling center to sort out what's reusable and what's not

NOW: Don’t trash the holidays: CBS 58 stops by WM’s recycling center to sort out what’s reusable and what’s not

GERMANTOWN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Holiday parties, decorating and gift giving are all things that make this time of year special.

But the average American also produces 25 percent more trash during the holidays. As you host your holiday parties and open gifts with your family, WM wants to remind you to make sure you're not throwing things in the recycling bin that don't belong there. 

Old holiday lights, gift wrap and bows-- it can all get confusing about what is salvageable. 

"Stick to the basics," said John Schultz, the district manager at WM's Germantown Center. You know, we're here for your paper, plastics, cardboard, aluminum tin cans, so stick to those. Don't try to throw everything in the bin." 

While things like old lights and batteries are recyclable, they're not something you can put in your everyday recycling bin. They usually need to go to a special recycling facility. 

When your materials show up at WM's plant, they're sorted by a machine, and then again by an employee. 

"We have quality control sorters that will pull it off the line if they see it on the paper sorter," said Schultz. 

Making sure what's in your bin is correct is important for their safety, and it can save time and money. 

Schults says gift bags and wrapping paper are two things that confuse people. 

"Paper in itself is good but if it's wrapping paper and it has a metal foil on it its unusable," said Schultz. 

And what about plastic gift bags? Can we recycle them?

"You can. You can go to and find a place to recycle these. Don't put them in your recycling bin." 

If you're ever questioning what you should recycle and what you should toss, most cities have a website to make it easier for you. 

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