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Present packaging generates trash

Because of the ink in wrapping paper, it cannot be recycled. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2012.
Another Christmas has come and gone, and the folks who take all the trimmings, trees and tinsel to local landfills are reminding Mother Lode residents what to do with all their holiday waste.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produce more than 1 million tons of extra waste a week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. 





The ribbons that adorn packages alone could tie a bow around the earth and the 2.6 billion cards could fill a football field 10 stories high, according to the EPA.

Local landfills and trash pickup operations will shift into high gear to deal with the increase in volume. Some of that stuff is recyclable, like the Christmas trees and cardboard gift boxes. 

But some of it isn’t, according to Tom Teach of Cal Sierra Disposal, which handles solid waste services for much of Tuolumne County.

The heavy-duty plastic used to package toys is also not recyclable by Waste Management, which owns Cal Sierra, Teach said. Neither is much of the wrapping paper that piles up on Christmas morning, he said. 

It has to go to the landfill because of the inks used in the material, Teach said Monday.

“It’s probably the only paper that we can’t take,” he said.

Though Styrofoam is recyclable, Teach said not to put it in the recycling bins but bring it to the Sonora area transfer stations to be separated. The University of California Cooperative Extension is having a special styrofoam collection event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 12 and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Waste Management facility off Camage Avenue east of Sonora.

“If they want to bring it here, we’d be more than happy to recycle it,” Teach said.

In Calaveras County, solid waste staffers are encouraging residents to put cards and wrapping paper in with their recyclables as long as they don’t include foil, tissue or musical cards.

And that leaves the tree, which some residents start taking down today but will often leave up until New Year’s Day. Both Tuolumne and Calaveras County solid waste administrators are encouraging recycling the used evergreens, as the chipped material can be used for water conservation, weed control, erosion control and fuel.

Residents have a number of opportunities to recycle their trees, as long as they have no decorations, are not flocked or artificially colored and are cut up into 4-foot lengths and bundled for curbside pickup.

• Calaveras Disposal and SEI will provide curbside collection for their customers between Dec. 31 and Jan. 14 at no additional charge for county residents.

• The Cal Sierra Waste Management Earth Resource Facility, at 14909 Camage Ave., East Sonora, 533-0445, will accept clean, whole trees for no charge during regular business hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m.), Tuesday through Saturday, through the end of January. If a customer is unable to get the tree to the ERF, Waste Management will pick it up during the first week of January at the customer’s home for those who call 532-1413 by Jan 4.

• The Big Oak Flat-Groveland Transfer Station at 10700 Merrell Road, Groveland, will accept clean-cut and bundled trees for no charge. The minimum gate fee of $14.70 will be charged for flocked trees of any kind. Drop off during regular business hours, 8 a.m to 3:45 p.m., Wednesday and Saturday only, through the end of January.

• Customers with Burns Refuse Service can call 928-4251 to set up curbside pickup, and those with Moore Bros. can call that office to arrange for a pickup.

• Red Hill Transfer Station, a county facility at 4314 Red Hill Road, Vallecito, 736-6891.

• Rock Creek Solid Waste, 12021 Hunt Road near Milton, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Gambi Disposal, 968 Church Hill Road, San Andreas, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Jan. 14.

• Wilseyville Transfer Station, end of Blizzard Mine Road, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday through Monday.

• Copperopolis Transfer Station, 3831 O’Byrnes Ferry Road, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday through Monday.

• SEI Solid Waste, 1149 Dunbar Road, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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