Quality control employees sort through refuse on the mixed-paper conveyor belt at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County on Eight Mile in Southfield, looking for nonrecyclable material.

Quality control employees sort through refuse on the mixed-paper conveyor belt at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County on Eight Mile in Southfield, looking for nonrecyclable material.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Experts offer tips on post-holiday recycling

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published January 7, 2020

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SOUTHFIELD/LATHRUP VILLAGE — It’s official. The holidays are over.

Before you kick the tree to the curb and toss the ornaments, local waste experts are weighing in on how to properly dispose of holiday castoffs.

According to Mike Csapo, the general manager of the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County, the list of items accepted for recycling does not change because of the holiday season, but it’s easy for folks to get confused.

If you’re purging old toys or electronics to make room for new, Csapo said an important thing to remember is that batteries are not recyclable and can cause major issues when sent to a recycling facility.

On Dec. 18, a fire broke out inside RRRASOC due to a battery.

“There was no lasting damage, and our system was OK. We got the fire out, and they were fine,” Csapo said. “But we know for sure one was caused by a battery, so we’re taking every opportunity to educate people about the consequences of trying to recycle batteries.”

Electronics also do not have a home in the recycling cart, he said.

With the rise of online shopping, Csapo said, RRRASOC crews are seeing an influx of packaging materials that are not recyclable.

“For example, more and more, we’re seeing people getting stuff delivered to their home in Amazon boxes, and those are perfectly recyclable. But bubble wrap, plastic wrap, Styrofoam, packing peanuts — those are not recyclable” by RRRASOC, Csapo said. “We want people to separate the recyclable cardboard box from all the stuff in the box.”

Another common issue, Csapo said, is when people try to recycle holiday lights and decor.

“We get ornaments and old Christmas lights. People have an old string of Christmas lights that they’ve taken down and want to recycle it, but they should get thrown away because they get tangled up in our equipment,” he said.

Tissue paper, metallic or glitter paper, toys, ribbon, bows, and cellophane are all not recyclable in Southfield, Csapo said. However, plain wrapping paper and cardboard gift boxes are allowed in the recycling cart.

In Lathrup Village, which is served by the Southeast Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority for recycling collection, residents can take their unwanted electronics, holiday lights, Styrofoam and bubble wrap to SOCRRA’s Recycling Drop-off Center at 995 Coolidge in Troy.

The drop-off center is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Friday and 7 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday.

Another major item that cannot be recycled in Southfield is a natural Christmas tree.

Larry Sirls, the manager of public works operations, said the Southfield Department of Public Works has that one covered.

“In Southfield, we actually have it in our contract that, around Christmas time, residents can put their trees out and they’ll be picked up on their normal trash day with their trash truck,” Sirls said.

Sirls said he recommends placing the tree on the curb with the cut end toward the street.

If you wish to recycle your natural tree, Oakland County Parks offers free tree recycling 9 a.m.-4 p.m. through Jan. 26 at Catalpa Oaks County Park, 27705 Greenfield Road.

There is no fee to drop off the trees. All ornaments and tinsel must be removed prior to disposal, officials said.

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