Holiday items you can’t recycle in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon

Published November 28, 2023 at 3:44 pm

Holiday items you can’t recycle in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon

The holidays are an exciting time but they can also be a hectic time, and in all the busyness it’s easy to forget about proper waste management in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

Thankfully, getting rid of holiday waste isn’t difficult – residents can always consult Peel Region’s handy waste sorter to find which items go into your garbage, recycling, or organic bin.

The waste sorter includes holiday-related items such as cards, gift wrap and Christmas trees (both real and artificial), which you might find you’re not sure what to do with once the holiday season has passed.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when it comes time to get rid of holiday waste:

1. Some gift wrap and gift bags can be recycled.

The gifts have been opened and there’s a bunch of packaging left over, but before you chuck it all into the garbage, check if it can be recycled! While some wrapping paper is non-recyclable (such as metallic wrapping paper or wrapping paper with an excessive amount of tape), non-metallic wrap and tissue wrapping paper are okay to throw into your blue bin. Similarly, gift bags that are non-metallic and have had the rope handle removed can be recycled – otherwise, they should be thrown out as garbage.

Another common item that can be recycled is Christmas/holiday cards, as long as they’re removed from the plastic foil.

Ribbons, bows, and plastic gift cards should be thrown in the garbage.

2. Christmas tree disposal depends on whether it’s a real or an artificial tree.

Real Christmas trees and wreaths can be left on the curb for special pickup on select days in January (check your collection calendar for your tree pickup day). Residents are reminded to remove all decorations from the tree before putting it on the curb. A Christmas tree won’t be collected if it’s taller than three metres (10 feet), is in a plastic bag, is on a snowbank, or is still decorated with tinsel or ornaments.

Artificial Christmas trees, on the other hand, are garbage and can be left on the curb during your regular garbage pickup day or taken to one of Peel’s community recycling centres.

If the tree is still in good condition, you may also consider giving it to a local organization that accepts Christmas trees.

3. Reduce food waste by saving uneaten food for later.

Did you know? Almost 40% of the food we throw out is still good to eat, and cutting down on food waste can help the average Peel household save up to $112 per month.

There’s a lot of cooking done over the holidays – to make sure you’re not wasting food, try cooking only as much as needed for the people who will be dining at your home, and if there’s still extra food left after the meal save it in the fridge for leftovers! Any food that you can’t keep should go into your green bin where it will be picked up and turned into compost (for example, the peels from fruits and veggies and the bones from meat and fish).

4. Consider reusing gift bags and other holiday items.

If you receive gift bags, wrap, or bows and ribbons that are in good condition, why not keep them? Consider storing them somewhere so that you can reuse them for gift-giving when the next holiday season rolls around. Not only does this help you save money in the long run, it also cuts down on the amount of gift bags and similar items that end up in the garbage every year.

5. If you’re ever in doubt, consult the online waste sorter.

The waste sorting tool available at Peel Region’s website is very convenient and easy to use – simply type in the name of the item and you’ll get a clear answer about which bin it belongs in. Here’s a quick list for the most common holiday items:


  • Non-metallic gift bags *with any rope removed
  • Non-metallic wrapping paper
  • Holiday cards without foil


  • Plastic gift cards
  • Ribbons / bows
  • Metallic wrapping paper/gift bags
  • Tape
  • Holiday cards with foil
  • Candle and candle wax

More tips and information on waste are available at Peel Region’s website, such as the collection calendar to help you remember your pickup day. Enjoy the holidays!

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