Make a Holiday Trash-Reduction Plan

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
News item

Make a Holiday Trash-Reduction Plan

Posted: 11/20/2017
With an increase in decorating, festive gatherings and gift exchanges during the holiday season, additional trash and recycling can really pile up. Prepare to accommodate your extra household waste over the next several weeks and keep your service workers in good spirits. 

Most wrapping paper and gift bags are recyclable, says Makenzie Read, Public Service Coordinator, even with transparent tape and staples still attached. Ribbons and bows, however, and anything with Mylar (shiny metallic lining), aren’t recyclable, but they can be reused. 

Working strands of Christmas lights can be donated to the charity of your choice. If they’re not in working condition, you can recycle them responsibly by taking them to the City’s Hazardous Household Waste facility (1033 Elm Street) or by giving them directly to a Goodwill attendant at a City recycling drop-off center or County Convenience centers in Halls, Karns, John Sevier, and Dutchtown. 

If you make a lot of online purchases, you could end up with a slew of packing materials. Bubble wrap and deflated plastic air pillows can be recycled at grocery and retail stores with plastic film recycling containers; check this link for nearby locations: UPS Store locations accept Styrofoam peanuts for recycling. 

Overflow recycling is always collected from residences with City recycling carts, as long as the extra recycling is not in plastic bags. Paper bags, cardboard boxes and other containers clearly marked as recycling are acceptable for overflow recycling. Boxes too large for the cart or secondary container should be broken down and neatly stacked next to the recycling cart.

As the holidays approach, anticipate ways you can reduce the amount of trash and recycling you’ll have to manage and plan accordingly: 

• Avoid bringing home more packaging: Check your supply of reusable gift boxes, wrapping paper and bags at home before purchasing more or accepting additional ones at the store. 

• Reduce packaging: Choose gifts with less packaging that will end up in your carts after Christmas morning. For instance, buy individual items instead of pre-packaged items, like serving utensils, jams, gift sets, etc. 

• Pre-open and de-package gifts: If you anticipate opening a lot of boxes at one occasion (like Christmas morning), remove some or all of the packaging from your gifts before you wrap them, so you can spread out the recyclable packaging across multiple recycling pick-ups.

• Order sliced deli meats from the meat counter or butcher rather than purchasing multiple packages. 

• Reduce food waste by sending guests home with leftovers in reusable containers. 

If you do end up generating more trash in one week than will fit in your 95-gallon garbage cart with the lid closed, there are alternative destinations for your overflow bags: 

• Knox County’s convenience centers have dumpsters for household trash (free to City residents) as well as recycling containers for plastic, metal and aluminum cans, mixed paper and glass (which is no longer accepted at the Carter location nor in the City’s single-stream recycling program).

• The City’s Solid Waste Management Facility (1033 Elm Street) accepts residents’ standard household garbage for a fee (except on Free for City Residents Day, held 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. most first Saturdays of every month) as well as other household hazardous waste at no charge for residents. 

With seven residential trash pickups and half as many recycling pick-ups between now and New Year’s Day, getting your game plan together can help prevent holiday pile-ups. 

Outside downtown, there will be no residential collection of garbage or recyclables on Thanksgiving Day. If your regular trash and/or recycling pick-up day is Thursday, a Waste Connections crew will collect it Friday. Friday pick-up households are encouraged to put their carts out on Friday as usual in case crews complete Thursday routes early. Remaining Friday pick-ups will be serviced on Saturday. This alternate schedule also applies to Christmas Day. 

If you are a City resident who hasn’t yet requested or received a 95-gallon single-stream recycling cart, call 311 to make a request. A new batch of carts will be delivered in early 2018. 

For additional information about solid waste, recycling and leaf-pick-up, visit