Although you may think you're helping the environment by recycling gift wrap and tissue paper this holiday season, think again.

The McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility, or MASWU, wants area residents to be aware of what items are recyclable — which don’t include wrapping paper or other items with a wax coating.

"It's not a huge problem but it can be. But because people want to try to do the right thing and recycle around Christmastime, a lot of gift wrapping paper and boxes have wax on them. We find that more in commercial businesses that have things shipped to them that are wax coated," said John Hawk, general manager of MASWU.

Though a number of holiday items are not recyclable, they can be re-used instead. Hawk recommends re-using Christmas gift bags and tissue paper.

"Definitely re-use gift bags. It saves money and maybe time in the future, then it also doesn't go into the trash because what goes into the trash adds up to the amount of material we end up putting in our landfill," he said.

Gift-givers can also avoid bringing gift wrap into the equation altogether by wrapping gifts with recyclable materials, such as newspaper, or using the comics section to wrap children’s gifts.

The three R’s — reduce, reuse and recycle — are a good rule of thumb.

"One is to reduce the amount of waste to begin with and then re-use of course and reusing gift bags would be one thing to do and then recycle is the third R," Hawk said.

Hawk also said to watch for the iconic triangle signs on all materials.

"You can look for that on most items and it will show or not if they can not be accepted," he added.

Here’s MASWU’s list of common items that cannot be recycled:

— Plastic bags

— styrofoam

— Pyrex

— wax coated items

— ceramics

— food scraps

— yard waste/leaves

— garden hoses

— textiles or used clothing

— light bulbs

— electronics

— milk cartons

— automotive product bottles

— construction paper

— drink boxes/pouches

— gift wrap

— hanging folders


— paper plates

— paper cups

— paper towels

— scrap metal

— tissue paper

— window glass

— mirrors

— trash

For more information call 620-241-6559 or visit their website at or visit their Facebook page.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.