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All of the gifts have been opened, and everyone is enjoying their new toys. But what do you do with all of the boxes and wrapping paper?

Christmas trees

Cardboard boxes

Plastic odds & ends

  • Toys and other gifts are often secured to their boxes with plastic tabs - those tabs go into the trash.
  • Straps, sheets, plastic wrapping of video games, and a lot of other plastic stuff that comes with our gifts belong in the trash, too.
  • The triangle with an number only shows what kind of plastic the item is made from - that symbol doesn't mean its recyclable.
  • Only put appropriate plastics into the recycling cart.

Gift bags

  • Save them to reuse next year (and the year after that)
  • Do not place these bags into the recycling
  • These bags should go into the trash.


  • Never place Styrofoam in the recycling cart.
  • Take it to a drop-off site.
  • Remember - just because the Styrofoam sheet has a triangle and a number on it doesn't mean it can be recycled.


  • Never place electronics in your recycling cart.
  • Take them to a drop-off site.
  • Some items require a recycling fee.

Wrapping Paper

  • Plain decorative wrapping paper is recyclable.
  • Paper with foil is not recyclable and belongs in the trash.
  • The cardboard tube of paper is recyclable as well

Bows & Ribbons

  • These go into the trash (or stored to use again next year)
  • Be sure to separate them from the wrapping paper.

Greeting Cards

  • Simple greeting cards can be recycled.
  • Cards that play music need to have battery & music device removed

Gift Cards

  • If they cannot be re-loaded with funds and used again, they belong in the trash.


General Recycling tips

  • Keeping the lid of the recycling cart closed protects the material inside from the rain and snow that can damage paper.
  • Make sure the cart is out by 7:00am on your scheduled collection day.


what happens to your recycling?

Watch a video about the Pellitteri Waste Systems recycling facility sorts everything you have placed into the recycling carts.


Recyclopedia & Fact sheets

Looking for more information on Streets Division services and even more recycling details? Download the 2019 Recyclopedia

Paper copies of the Recyclopedia are available at Madison Public Libraries and can be mailed to your home by request (just contact the Streets Division).

The new Recyclopedia is designed to be easy to use and search while on your computer. You're welcome to download the PDF file or just bookmark the page. Be sure to update your bookmarks with the 2019 version.

And for something that has more detail than the photo guide, but less than the Recyclopedia, here's our reference guide to the rules and guidelines for recycling.

And while you're learning what to put into the cart the correct way, here's the guide on how to use the cart itself the right way:

You can even use the lid of your recycling cart, which may have this guide on it.

Our universe of stuff is complicated and constantly changing. So you may still encounter an item or question that is not covered by any of these resources. Please contact us and we'll help.