Halloween is all about dressing up, having fun and candy – lots of candy. But Halloween presents a scary reality for recycling facilities because of the huge amount of waste that’s produced and often wrongly placed in recycling bins.
About 12,500 tons of Halloween costumes are sent to landfills every year, according to Real Simple magazine. To cut down on this waste, donate them, or save them for the kids to play dress-up throughout the year. If you’re thinking about disposing of a costume in your recycling container, be sure you know what to throw. Typically about 30 percent of what goes into residential recycling containers today shouldn’t be there.
As with any holiday, Halloween is bound to cause excess waste, and there may be confusion about what to do with it. Here are some tricks and treats to help make your Halloween recycling efforts spooktacular.
- Don’t put candy wrappers in your recycling bin. A recent Republic Services survey revealed that about 24% of people think candy wrappers are recyclable. Nope. They’re often coated paper, which can’t be processed into new paper. Also, wrappers are usually small, and no material smaller than a credit card should ever be placed in your recycling bin. On the plus side, unwrapped candy can be disposed of with your organic waste.
- Don’t trash costumes. Fabric costumes and plastic and latex masks cannot be recycled by curbside programs. These are great items to keep for a future Halloween or donate to your local thrift store. Getting the most use out of items like costumes is a key way to make Halloween more sustainable.
- Compost your jack-o’-lantern. While pumpkins never go in your recycling bin, they can be disposed of in your organic or yard waste container. Unsure if you have an organic waste or composting facility nearby? Republic Services may offer composting in your area.
- Pick the best from the party. After your Halloween party, separate the trash from the good recyclables such plastic cups and bottles, soda cans and cardboard. Just be sure these items are empty, clean and dry before they go in your recycling container. And always keep plastic bags and film out of your recycling.
- Recycle string lights the right way. Decorative string lights are great for creating the perfect holiday scene; however, they shouldn’t go in your recycling. They can get tangled in sorting equipment at the recycling facility. It’s best to dispose of anything with a cord or battery safely through a mail-in recycling program or e-waste drop-off.