Waste-free holiday: Guide to recycling electronics, trees and packaging materials after the holidays

Waste-free holiday: Guide to recycling electronics, trees and packaging materials after the holidays
Posted on 12/26/2018

Before we know it, the winter holidays will be over and it will be time to pack up the reusable items and pack out the recyclable ones. The Lane County Master Recycler Program has collected some handy tips to help you take care of the most common items generated during the holidays. For a list of additional holiday recycling tips go to www.lanecounty.org/wastefreeholidays.




Recycling and reusing electronics saves the energy used in mining and processing of raw materials, conserves natural resources, and reduces environmental degradation, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for every one million cell phones we recycle, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.


Donating unwanted electronics not only helps to protect the environment, it can also provide technical job skills and ensure access to contemporary technological tools for others, regardless of income.


Locally, residents can recycle electronics at NextStep Recycling in Eugene – and residential drop-off is free! NextStep staff and trainees will refurbish it and safely remove your data and personal information before giving it to people who otherwise wouldn't have access to technology. If they can't fix it, they will recycle it for you by working with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality approved processors.


NextStep’s Donation and Training Center is located near the corner of West 10th Avenue and Garfield Street in Eugene. Donations are accepted Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Local businesses can call to schedule free pick up of unwanted computers and other workplace electronics. To find out more about the items NextStep accepts, visit http://nextsteprecycling.org/residential-recycling.html or call 541-686-2366.


The EPA also provides a list of companies that offer electronic recycling options. The list can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling.




Recycle Christmas Lights

NextStep Recycling accepts functioning and non-functioning Christmas lights for recycling. All proceeds from the recycled lights go to Rich Schwab Kidsports Scholarship Fund through January 31, 2019.

Recycle (Compost) Christmas Trees

Boy Scout Troop 182 offers pickup for $10 on weekends between December 26 and January 21. It doesn’t take flocked or painted trees. More information is available here.


McCornack Elementary School's fifth grade class is fundraising for a trip to Washington D.C. next summer. They will be picking up trees during the weekends following Christmas. They are asking for a $10 donation. For more information click here or call 541-833-0180.


If you want to recycle your tree by yourself, Rexius (150 Highway 99, Eugene) and Lane Forest Products (2111 Prairie Rd., Eugene and 820 N. 42nd St., Springfield) accept green and flocked trees for a small fee.




Recycle Block Styrofoam

St. Vincent de Paul is Lane County’s source for recycling white block #6 polystyrene (commonly known by the brand name Styrofoam) and Styrofoam packing peanuts. It shreds block Styrofoam and compresses it into logs, making it more cost-effective to transport it to recyclers. Styrofoam peanuts are used at Aurora Glass or resold in thrift stores. 


Households in Eugene and Springfield can recycle small quantities of Styrofoam at no charge at any St. Vincent de Paul store location. Keep packing peanuts and block foam separate. No food containers, cups, etc. St. Vincent de Paul charges a modest fee for businesses; click here to read more about the Styrofoam recycling program for businesses.


Reuse Packaging Materials

Many area businesses reuse clean packing peanuts and bubble wrap, but especially the pack-and-ship outlets. Check with a business you usually frequent to find out if they want your excess, clean packing materials.





Waste-Free Holidays Campaign

Lane County Master Recyclers invite community members to celebrate the season of giving by reducing, reusing, and recycling waste that is typically generated at the holidays. The Waste-Free Holidays Campaign highlights several fun, low-cost and simple waste prevention strategies families can use from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day – or any time of year! Visit www.lanecounty.org/wastefreeholidays to view tips and resources to help create a truly enjoyable season. New items are added throughout the season so check back periodically for inspiration.


Lane County Master Recycler Program

Master Recyclers bridge the gap between awareness and action by motivating people to reduce solid waste at home, work and play. Lane County Master Recycler volunteers provide more than 3,000 hours of waste prevention education to residents, businesses and events each year. Visit www.lanecounty.org/masterrecyclers to learn more.