New Year’s resolution: recycle holiday waste

Holidays a huge waste generator

“There’s an incredible amount of cardboard that encases the presents we get. Instead of sending it to the landfill, the better option is to recycle it.” Susan hamilton, DPW recycling office director

The winter holidays generate excitement and merriment, but all those gifts and festive feasts also mean more trash.

Louisianans — like the rest of the country — produce more garbage each December than any other month, according to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Some East Baton Rouge Parish officials are hoping that residents opt to recycle more of that waste this year.

“There’s an incredible amount of cardboard that encases the presents we get,” said Department of Public Works Recycling Office Director Susan Hamilton. “Instead of sending it to the landfill, the better option is to recycle it.”

Krystal Perkins, DPW’s solid waste manager, said the parish always experiences a bump in trash collections around the holidays. Garbage isn’t picked up on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s, so collections for those days have to be made up later in the week.

“Afterwards, we do notice a solid waste increase,” she said.

Perkins said the increase varies from year to year.

Last year, the landfill saw a 6,000-ton increase from November to December, she said.

Household waste in the United States increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, which is about a million extra tons, according to a figure frequently cited by the Environmental Protection Agency and recycling advocates.

But while the trash piles up, recycling typically doesn’t mirror the sharp uptick during the holidays in Baton Rouge. In recent years, November and December collections have stayed level at about 1,300 tons to 1,700 tons during those months, according to figures from DPW.

But Hamilton said the holidays can be a good time to pick up recycling habits for the whole year.

“Hopefully there will be some increase from New Year’s resolutions, as well,” she said.

Cardboard boxes and wrapping paper can be placed in curbside recycling carts for collection, but tissue paper and packing peanuts are not accepted.

A recycling drop-off for apartment residents and small businesses is scheduled Jan. 8 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Louisiana Department of Insurance office on Florida Boulevard.