Christmas is less than a week away, and whilst that brings excitement, joy, and families together, it also brings a lot of packaging and food waste.
In this Recycling Christmas Waste Guide, we are going to tell you what you can and can’t recycle this Christmas, with a few handy tips thrown in about waste reduction too.
Certain types of wrapping paper
- Brown wrapping paper is fine to be recycled
- Plain wrapping paper is fine to be recycled
- Metallic, foil, glossy, or glittery wrapping paper is not recyclable
Wrapping paper advice
- Remove all sellotape from wrapping paper before putting it in the recycling bin
- Rule of thumb: A quick way to know if you can recycle the paper or not is if you scrunch it into a ball and it stays as a ball. This is good. If it springs back to a flat position, it’s not recyclable
- Try to be careful when opening gifts, as you may be able to keep and store some wrapping paper for next year
- Give presents in gift bags rather than wrapped, to avoid wrapping paper and allow the gift bags to be reused year after year
- Boxes from companies like Amazon are absolutely fine to be recycled
- Shoeboxes are also fine to be recycled
- Boxes that package things like perfume or kids toys are also fine to be recycled
Cardboard box advice
Brits spend an average of £300 each on online shopping for Christmas gifts, a staggering figure. Even more staggering is the estimated 300,000 tonnes of card packaging that will be used this Christmas. Remember to remove the sellotape from all boxes, as well as any small plastic pieces, so that the boxes can be efficiently recycled. If you want to reduce cardboard box waste, shop locally and do less delivery-based shopping. If you receive a present in a box, and you don’t want to return or use that present, why not give it to charity?
- Christmas cards are fine to be recycled unless they are glittery
- Remember to recycle the envelopes too
Christmas card advice
It’s now time, if you’re concerned about wastage, to completely ban glitter from your Christmas activities. For any glittery cards you may receive, do not try to recycle them. You may find opportunities to upcycle them, such as making them into gift tags. Glitter is really damaging to the paper recycling process are the pieces are so small and often get missed, leading to the contamination of entire loads of paper recycling.
- If you have a food caddy or a compost pile, you can recycle your Christmas food
Food waste advice
The only food not fit for your food caddy is milk. Other liquids are not advised either. Other than that, it’s recommended that you recycle anything that you don’t manage to turn into a snack in the days after Christmas. Turkey sandwiches, bubble and squeak, and whatever creative culinary efforts you can muster up are all effective ways to keeping Christmas waste to a minimum. Remember that a lot of your Christmas food would be fit for birds, like stuffing, fruit cake, and mince pies. Overall, to keep food waste low, just buy what you need and try to ignore all of the Christmas offers – the shops are only shut for 1 day!
- Clear or coloured plastic packaging from Christmas gifts can usually be recycled, look for the recycling logos
- Boxes, bottles, and packaging are usually fine to be recycled
Plastic packaging advice
If the plastic is used for food or drinks: rinse it, squash it, and recycle it. If it’s clean and used for packaging, make sure there is no sellotape or glitter on it, and recycle it. Where cardboard and plastic are combined for packaging, such as to show what a toy looks like inside a cardboard box, be sure to cut out the window and recycle the plastic and cardboard separately.
- Broken tinsel and baubles cannot be recycled
- Wreaths that are free from glue or glitter can be recycled as green waste
- Fairly lights and flashing electric ornaments are classed as WEEE and should go to your local tip or recycling centre
- Plastic Christmas trees cannot be recycled but could be donated to a new home (you can take them to your recycling centre and they will deal with them responsibly)
Most decorations don’t need recycling, they just need storing for the following year. If you care about the huge amounts of Christmas waste, you might want to consider how many years of usage you could get out of plastic alternatives (wreaths and trees) as opposed to the natural original versions. If you’re going to buy plastic alternatives, pay for quality and longevity.
- Christmas trees can be recycled, given that they don’t have thick trunks
Christmas tree advice
Most councils in the UK have no problem with you chopping up your Christmas tree and putting it in the brown bin. Some councils even offer a paid service to collect and recycle your trees on your behalf. Regardless of whether you do it yourself, or through a service, you must first:
- Remove all decorations and lighting
- Remove the tree from the base or block (if used)
- Make sure the trunk is not thicker than your arm
- Chop it into pieces
Have you got some great Christmas Waste reducing tips to share?
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can update this guide