By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — During the holidays, Americans throw out 25-percent more than the rest of the year — everything from Christmas cards to bubble wrap to old computers and phones.

That had Jacob from St. Paul wanting to know: What can be recycled? And what can’t?

WCCO went to Republic Services, a solid waste collection company, for the answers.

According to Eric Mensen, the operations supervisor at the Inver Grove Heights facility, many things people might toss over the holidays can be reused or recycled.


Cardboard boxes (ideally broken down)
Shirt boxes (ideally broken down)
Wrapping paper (except if it’s glittery, metallic or velvet)
Toy packaging (if the paper is separated from the plastic)

NON-RECYCLABLE – but can be reused

Tissue wrap
Bubble wrap
Gift Bags

By law, electronics cannot be thrown in the trash in Minnesota. Some cities do offer curbside pickup for phones, televisions, tablets or computers, but most do not.

Most counties do offer drop-off locations for electronics. Major retailers like Best Buy, Office Depot and Staples also offer electronics recycling programs.

Before recycling electronics, the phone, tablet or computers should be wiped clean of its data.

“You never know where the data is going to wind up,” says Mike Satter, the vice-president at OceanTech, a Eden Prairie-based company that recovers retired IT hardware.

Satter recommends restoring phones or tablets to their factory settings as well as running free, online data destruction programs through a computer before sending those products to be recycled.


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