VANCOUVER -- As families across British Columbia begin returning their lives to normal after Christmas, one step in that process will be cleaning up and disposing of some of the trappings of the season.

Packaging- and paper-recycling tends to spike in late December, according to Recycle BC, which has some tips for how to maximize the effectiveness of the recycling system during the holidays.

The agency's guide to holiday recycling notes that paper gift wrap, paper bags, greeting cards and cardboard boxes can all be recycled in curbside bins. Metal cookie tins, plastic trays, foil trays and foil wraps can also placed in those bins, though it's important to ensure they're fully and properly cleaned.

Contamination - from food or other materials - is one of the main things that prevents recyclable material from actually being recycled, according to Recycle BC.

Other common holiday waste can also be recycled, though it's a little more difficult. Plastic envelopes and bubble wrap, plastic bags and overwrap, plastic candy wrappers and foam packaging are all recyclable, but not in curbside bins. Those items should be brought to Recycle BC depots or to London Drugs, the agency says.

A few types of Christmas packaging are not recyclable, and Recycle BC recommends reusing them or putting them in the garbage. Items in this category include foil gift wrap, ribbons and bows.

Recycle BC holiday infographic
Click or tap image for larger version.

As for Christmas trees, a variety of options for disposal are available.

In Vancouver, trees can be brought to chipping events at locations around the city on the weekend of Jan. 4 and 5.

Households with green bin service can also set out their trees for curbside pickup the following weekend, Jan. 11 and 12.

Christmas trees can also be dropped off for free at the Vancouver South Transfer Station or Vancouver Landfill until Jan. 31, according to the city.

Most other municipalities in the Lower Mainland also offer curbside pickup, and a list of chipping events across B.C. can be found on the Recycling Council of British Columbia website.

All decorations should be removed from Christmas trees before disposal.