New year, old junk: Holidays busy for waste handlers

Sunday Times Newspapers

After the presents are unwrapped, the turkey is finished and the tree has come down, one thing is still plentiful after the holidays.


Susan Leffew, who works at the Wyandotte Recycling Center, said the holiday season is especially busy, as residents bring in the remnants of their holiday celebrations for recycling.

“We’re as busy as you could possibly be,” Leffew said. “You’re just on your toes and you never take your coat off.”

She said workers at the center see pretty much the same cardboard, plastic and tins after the holidays as they do the rest of the year, only in much larger quantities.The recycling center also takes wrapping paper, and nothing special needs to be done before residents bring it in, she said.

The people who tend to bring in Christmas trees — which started showing up at the center the day after Christmas — wrapping paper and other post-holiday refuse are the same ones who bring in recyclables the other 11 months of the year, Leffew said.

“We don’t have anyone who comes in with stuff because it’s Christmas,” she said. “They do it all year round.”

Tom Horton, spokesman for Waste Management, which hauls trash for many Downriver communities, said the company handles up to 25 percent more waste after the holidays, requiring longer workdays for its staff.

He said in the past 20 years more recyclable bins and fewer Christmas trees have joined trash cans on local curbs.

“A lot of it has to do with the fact that people have artificial trees that they reuse every year,” he said.

Horton added that artificial trees, for many, are another form of recycling and have to do with their desire to be more eco-friendly.

The trees begin to pile up in yards the day after Christmas, he said, and continue to show up several weeks later. Waste Management is scheduled to pick up trees in Wyandotte from tomorrow to Jan. 31.

The most important thing a resident can do to help reduce the workload for trash haulers is to make sure their trash is disposed of in the proper containers, Horton said. Cardboard also can be separated into 2-foot tall stacks and tied with string to prevent it from blowing away.

“Think about handling it yourself in a convenient fashion,” Horton said. “That way, trash and recyclable collectors will be able to do their jobs a little more effectively.”