Monique Vachon and son Tyler Nielsen, of Red Deer, were getting rid of some stuff at the landfill site on Wednesday. While the amount of garbage often goes up a little after Christmas the increased volumes of recyclables coming in are more noticeable, says the city. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Full blue boxes a post-Christmas tradition

Red Deer ready for the annual January spike in recycling volumes

The sight of wrapping paper under the Christmas tree usually makes eyes light up.

Expect a less excited reaction from garbage collectors if you stuff your blue box full of gift wrapping.

Gentle reminder: Christmas paper is not recyclable. Those who go overboard may find their blue boxes uncollected and a message left as to why it hasn’t been taken away.

And if Santa brought you that big screen TV on the top of your list, don’t forget plastic foam packing is also not recyclable through Red Deer’s blue box program.

City waste management superintendent Janet Whitesell said those who wind up with a bunch of packing foam or similar electronics packaging might want to check with the store they got it from before assigning it to the garbage stream. Many stores now have their own in-house recycling programs for packing products.

It will likely come as no surprise to most that the recycling program experiences a jump in volumes in January. Last year, recyclables were up eight per cent, to just over 500 tonnes. The monthly average is about 465 tonnes.

“December and January tend to be two of our higher months for recycling. At our dropoff depots, we always have to get extra bins put out for them and make sure we’re staying on top of them during these two (holiday) weeks.”

Garbage trends are less noticeable. The first week of January in 2018, the city collected about 307 tonnes of garbage compared with a weekly average of 295 tonnes. The amount of garbage is considerably less in winter, when the do-it-yourself projects and yard work are on hold.

As the holiday season approaches, volumes tend to dip and then spike.

“The week of Christmas, we tend to see lower garbage tonnages. Then the week after Christmas — this week — we tend to be up a bit higher.

“I just kind of chalk that up to be people being out of their routines, maybe being away or different things and pretty much forgetting to put their garbage out.”

There will be some big changes on the garbage front in 2019. The city is introducing black boxes for general garbage to go along with the blue and green boxes. They will be arriving through March and April and the city will be sending out notices to let residents know how to use them.

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