It's one of the most wonderful -- and messy -- times of the year.

It's one of the most wonderful -- and messy -- times of the year.

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio is asking local recyclers to crush or flatten cardboard gift boxes before tossing them into one of the organization's 225 drop-off centers. SWACO also is requesting that the recycling community act preemptively by finding ways to trim holiday waste. Officials with the waste authority are concerned about overloaded receptacles, as recycling efforts are up 18 percent from last year, said John Remy, director of communications.

While SWACO empties containers more frequently, "We know there are some that are going to overflow and some people are going to be concerned," Remy said.

"We've been running a record rate all year," he said. "At this time of the year it gets heavier because, of course, people are buying more."

Remy suggests looking for products with reduced packaging and considering a product's durability before buying it.

Other than boxes, a number of other items associated with the holiday season can be recycled, including non-foil greeting cards, catalogs, advertising slicks and wrapping paper removed of bows, ribbons and cellophane.

Styrofoam materials are not accepted at the drop-off centers, Remy said, but Phoenix Recycling, 2040 S. Hamilton Road, will collect all Styrofoam packaging products, except for food containers.

Electronic items -- TVs, computers and similar products -- can be recycled, Remy said, but not at the traditional drop-off centers. A list of businesses that accept such merchandise can be found online at

Other recycling bins can be found at churches, retail stores, parks and schools.

Shirley Cotter runs Clean-Up and Recycling Backers, which coordinates 16 drop-off sites in Clintonville. She said that shoppers also collect a lot of plastic bags during the holiday season, but only the No. 1 and 2 bags are recyclable.

She also asks that people not place their recyclables on the ground outside of the bins.

"If the container is full it would technically be considered littering if they put it outside of the containers," she said.