Christmas is a wonderful yet highly wasteful time of the year. Even those of us who are conscious of how much waste we produce for the rest of the year may let our usual standards slip during the festive period as we fulfil loved ones’ gift wish lists and carry out long-standing family traditions. While you may produce more waste over Christmas, it is important to remember that a lot of the waste can be recycled. Below are some examples using popular Christmas items.
If you’ve received Christmas cards this year, you have a few options for what to do with them post-Christmas. You could reuse some as gift tags for next year by cutting images out, punching a hole in them, and adding a piece of string. You can also recycle your old Christmas cards, but make sure to remove any parts of the card that feature glitter, foil, ribbons or bows and place those parts in your general waste bin. Most local councils take cardboard and paper for recycling, so you can pop your cards and envelopes in the appropriate wheelie bin.
Some local councils refuse to recycle any wrapping paper, but if your local council does recycle it, do the scrunch test before you place it in the recycling bin — if you scrunch it and it doesn’t bounce back, it can be recycled. Remember to remove all sticky tape, tags and bows before sending it for recycling, too.
The cardboard packaging used at Christmas could cover Big Ben almost 260,000 times, according to WRAP! The majority of online orders are sent out in cardboard boxes, which most local councils recycle at the roadside. Remove any non-cardboard bits, such as plastic and sticky tape, then collapse the boxes and pop them in your wheelie bin ready for collection.
Fake Christmas trees can’t be recycled sadly, however they do tend to last for many years. Real trees can be recycled, and some local councils will collect them after Christmas. They get turned into wood chippings which can then be used in parks and woodland areas. Another alternative is to buy a real tree with roots so you can plant it out in the garden after use.
Unfortunately, most Christmas decorations can’t be recycled, including tinsel and baubles. These need to be placed in your general waste bin. However, natural wreaths and fairy lights can. Place natural waste (mistletoe, holly, ivy, etc.) in your garden waste wheelie bin. Your fairy lights are classified as WEEE and must not be sent to landfill — some local councils collect small electrical items at the roadside, but if not you can take items to your local household waste recycling site.
As a nation we get through a lot of batteries, especially over the festive season when playing with all the new gadgets we are lucky enough to be gifted. Batteries don’t tend to be recycled roadside, however there are plenty of shops where you can drop them off for recycling. Keep your eyes peeled for battery recycling collection points in your area.
While it’s great to recycle as much as possible, it’s worth noting that placing non-recyclables in the recycling bin can contaminate whole loads of recycling — this leads to a large amount of recyclable waste heading to landfill. The same can occur if you place dirty items in the recycling, such as used pizza boxes. So please think before you recycle this Christmas.