Brown paper packages can have a second life. The string, maybe not so much.

Many things that make Christmas festive also can be recycled, and Southeast Kansas Recycling Center Operations Manager Tausha Ritz helped distinguish between common seasonal items that can and cannot be accepted by the operation.

Items that can be recycled include boxes, some wrapping paper, some packaging and even Christmas lights and trees, but not bows, Styrofoam and other leftovers from gift giving.

Ritz said any paper wrapping paper can be separated out and brought in, but the foil types cannot be recycled.

"The plastic-y foil stuff, you can just toss that, but we will take wrapping paper itself," she said.

Additionally, some separation is helpful, but not everything needs separated.

"Its OK if it still has the tape stuck," Ritz said. "It would be nice if they would take off the ribbons."

She advised that not all staples need removed from boxes or gift bags, but that it is helpful to sort them into the right categories to keep the drop off lines moving at the recycling center.

This includes making distinctions between corrugated cardboard - the type with layers of cardboard bound together and featuring small lines running the length of the product - and chip board, or the type commonly found on toy packaging and cereal or pop boxes.

Ritz said the presorting is helpful to keep the recycling lines moving as lots of people clear out their Christmas recyclables quickly.

"We will be very, very busy for two to three weeks after the holidays," Ritz said. "We’re going to be lined up and try to get people in and out as quickly as possible."

She said having things pre-sorted will help keep the lines moving and advised that more information on how to sort items is on the Web site at

In addition to traditional items to be recycled, the center also can accept live trees with all lights and ornaments removed, lights can be turned in and resold or recycled and the center can accept bubble wrap, shrink wrap and containers of packing peanuts.

They also can accept toys, clothes or household items with some life left in them, all of which will be sold at the New to You store that helps with operational overhead expenses.

"If there are any questions as to what we can and cannot accept, they can give us a call at 231-8930," Ritz said.

The center will be closed today and Christmas and again on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.