Christmas is a jolly time of year, but not good for recycling

Your holiday wish list - or at least what it comes wrapped in - may be causing big problems for recyclers.

"It surprises a lot of people," Arlington County Solid Waste Bureau Operations Manager Shani Kruljac said.

Here's the deal: a bunch of holiday-related stuff you may assume is recyclable actually isn't. That includes tissue paper, bows, wrapping paper that is either glittery or metallic, and also gift bags with glitter - all because recycling machinery isn't set up to handle it or there is just no market for it, according to Kruljac.

Making matters worse, attempting to recycle large quantities of those items can lead to even bigger issues.

"If we had a whole bunch of contaminated paper," Kruljac explained, "like paper with glitter or paper that still has the ribbons attached to it, and it got into a bale of clean paper, it could potentially contaminate the entire bale and it would be rejected at the end market."

In other words, none of it would be recycled.

But the good news is there are some easy steps you can take to avoid contributing to the problem. For starters, you can either buy bags and wrapping paper that can be recycled or just try to reuse them. Finally, Kruljac said if you're not sure whether something is or isn't recyclable - better safe than sorry - just throw it out.

For more information on holiday items that you can and can't recycle, click here.