Holiday trash do’s and don’ts
By LINDA CHION KENNEY
As the New Year rolls in and the Christmas tree rolls out, Hillsborough County officials offer discarding do’s and don’ts for all holiday excesses, including trees, trimmings, wrappings and more.
Free curbside pickup for real trees is available during a resident’s regular (or holiday scheduled) yard waste collection date. Decorations, lights and tinsel have to be removed. Also, the tree must be cut into sections no larger than 4-feet long and 6-inches in diameter.
Another option is to bring bare, live trees to one of three, yard waste processing facilities in Hillsborough County, including at 13000 U.S. Highway 41 in Gibsonton. Additional locations are in Tampa at 346 Falkenburg Road and 8001 West Linebaugh Ave.
The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, with an extension office in Seffner, warns that to avoid a fire hazard, real trees should be discarded when they become dry. Tree branches and needles should never be burned in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Needles can clog vacuums; opt instead for sweeping.
Other repurposing options include stripping bare a tree into a stake frame for flowers or beans to grow up; chopping and grinding live Christmas trees into mulch for trees, shrubs and flower beds; and creating an outside bird-feeder by securing a tree into a heavy pot and “decorating” its branches with suitable food, such as sliced fruit and suet.
Meanwhile, there are additional holiday trash issues to consider with recommendations in place from Hillsborough County officials:
Holiday ornaments and decorations that cannot be donated should be discarded as trash. This includes pre-lit and artificial trees.
Greeting cards and wrapping paper, as long as it is free of ribbons, foil and other non-paper items an be recycled loose in the curbside blue recycling cart. Gift bags, tissue paper, ribbons and bows are not recyclable.
Strings of holiday lights can be disposed in the gray garbage cart or recycled as electronics for no fee at any one of the County’s nine County community collection centers, with proof of residency in hand, including a copy of your County tax bill. Nearby centers are the South County Solid Waste Facility in Gibsonton; the Wimauma Solid Waste Facility, at 16180 West Lake Drive; the Southeast County Landfill in Lithia, at 15960 County Road 672; and the Falkenburg Road Yard and Wood Waste facility, at 350 North Falkenburg Road.
This holds true as well for excess trash that does not fit into gray garbage carts and for electronic items containing a digital display or circuit board, including televisions, computers, laptops, mobile devices, stereo equipment, gaming consoles, VCR/DVD players and printers.
Small kitchen appliances, such as toasters, crockpots, electric skillets, blenders, hair dryers and curling irons can be discarded with regular trash.
Additionally, food and beverage containers should be emptied and rinsed before placing them loose in blue recycling carts. This includes plastic bottles and containers (No. 1-7); aluminum, tin and steel cans; cartons, such as those for soy milk, juice, chicken broth and more; and glass bottles and jars. Excess trash that does not fit into blue curbside carts likewise can be recycled at any of the County’s nine community collection centers.
The same is true for oversized and large volumes of flattened cardboard boxes that do not fit inside the curbside blue recycling cart.
Plastic bags, bubble wrap and film cannot be recycled in the blue recycling cart. Clean and dry plastic bags and film can be recycled in special bins at participating supermarkets. Loose and soiled bags, plastic film, shrink-wrap and bubble wrap should be discarded in the trash cart.
Styrofoam packing materials can be disposed of in the gray garbage cart or dropped off for recycling at the Dart Container Corporation facility in Plant City at 4610 Airport Road. Clean Styrofoam food trays and egg cartons can be recycled at most supermarkets.
Additionally, used household cooking oil can be recycled at the County’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Centers or at any Cooking Oil Recycling Effort (CORE) station for no additional fee. For information about the Public Utilities Grease Management Program, call 813-272-5977, ext. 43515.
To confirm and read about the trash and recycling efforts noted in this article, along with Hillsborough’s holiday trash collection schedule and facility locations, search for the “Solid Waste Holiday Guide” at www.HCFLGov.net.