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Department of Public Works offers tips to reduce, reuse and recycle this holiday season

Christmas composition. Studio shot on wooden background.

MILWAUKEE –The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) on Thursday, Dec. 19 released a list of tips and reminders to help you reduce waste and properly dispose of a variety of holiday items this season.

All Wrapped Up

Ribbons, bows, and wrapping paper with foil or glitter are not recyclable. Tissue paper is made from a low-grade paper that is not accepted for curbside recycling. Don’t fret! Try one of our favorite reuse strategies to create a new tradition. After your exchange, fold up the tissue paper, bags, and bows from all of the unwrapped gifts and send these items home with family members and friends so everyone has something new to wrap in next year.

Christmas Tree

  • Artificial trees can be donated for someone to use next year or placed in your garbage cart. They should never be placed in your recycling cart.
  • Live trees can be taken to a City Drop Off Center where it will be mulched, or you can place it at your regular garbage collection point for pick-up by DPW crews. Trees picked up by crews will be landfilled.
    • Trees must be bare, with all decorations and lights removed.

All of the Lights

A reminder that Christmas lights should never be placed in your recycling cart. Consider donating lights that are in working condition or recycle them through HolidayLEDs.

Make Room For Recyclables – Don’t Bag

Recyclables should always be loose in your cart, never bagged. This also helps save room by letting recyclables fall and settle in the cart where they fit.

All. Those. Boxes.

Let’s face it. You’re getting a TON of cardboard boxes delivered to your door this season and so are ALL of your neighbors. That’s a lot of boxes! Boxes that are not emptied and flattened are difficult to collect, difficult to fit inside the collection trucks, and sometimes cause crews to make extra trips to the recycling facility when the truck fills up too quickly. Styrofoam should be placed in your garbage cart, but plastic film packaging can be recycled at a local store drop off (not accepted curbside).

The Cardinal Rules for Holiday Recycling

Above all else, remember these two rules and you’ll be a fantastic holiday recycler:

  1. Know Before You Throw: always consult your curbside recycling guide to confirm what can and can’t be recycled. The City of Milwaukee residential recycling guide can be found here.
  2. When in Doubt, Throw it Out: it may go against your instinct, but guessing and accidentally throwing unaccepted items into your recycling cart can contaminate other clean materials, are costly to dispose of, and can cause harm to recycling equipment.

Drop Off Centers
Residents can visit for hours, locations, materials accepted, and any associated fees. The centers are closed on Sundays and Mondays and will be closed on December 24, 25, and January 1.

Recycling Collection Schedules
Residents can visit to view their garbage and recycling dates. There will be no garbage or recycling pick-up on December 24, 25, or January 1.

Stay in the Know

Visit for information on acceptable materials for recycling in the City of Milwaukee. Tips, tricks, and recycling stats can be found on and

Residents can also call 414-286-CITY (2489) for more information.

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