FLORENCE — The gifts have been opened and wrapping paper is piled in the corner or stuffed in bags.
Most of today’s gift wrappings can be recycled, but not all of them.
“The material we do not process includes Styrofoam, plastic wrapping — shrink wrap — and glass,” said Rachel Mansell, of the Florence Recycling Center. “When we get it, it’s a contaminant in the stream, so it goes in the Dumpster.”
Most paper products are accepted for recycling, as are cardboard boxes and rechargeable batteries. Heavier plastics are accepted, as well.
With so many gifts being unwrapped today, the department usually sees an increase in volume and works extra hours to handle the load.
“We work an extra day during the holidays,” Mansell said. “In part, that’s because the collection routes are a day behind the week of Christmas.
“Often, we have to send out extra people during the holidays because there is so much more material.”
This week, all garbage and recycling routes will be one day later than normal because city employees were off Monday and today.
“The volume starts going up on Black Friday and stays that way through mid-January,” said David Koonce, director of Florence Public Works. “So much is packaged in cardboard.”
Koonce said the extra volume of materials is not a problem for the Recycling Center because it has the space to store material.
“We get some humongous piles, and it may take until spring to get through it,” he said.
The biggest problem the Recycling Center has during the holidays is disposing of Styrofoam, Koonce said.
“That’s the biggest problem we have from a litter standpoint. That, and sheet plastic,” he said. “It tends to blow out of the plant. We have to gather it up and take it to the transfer station and on to a landfill.”
Florence processes about 3,300 tons of recyclable materials a year, Mansell said.
“Paper is the most common material, and most of it goes to SCA Tissue in Colbert County, where it is converted into napkins and paper products,” she said. “That’s good because that is a local plant that employs local people.”
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.