child tearing open presents on christmas morning

Christmas recycling

20 Sep 22 5 minute read

Come December 25th, cries of ‘Santa’s been’ will be echoing up and down the country.

No matter how prepared we think we are, most of us still end up with mountains of materials like card and paper to deal with on Christmas Day. Check out our top tips for tackling waste without the overflowing wheelie bins this festive season...

Plan Ahead

Check what’s on the naughty and nice recycling list in your area by checking the Recycling Sorter. Remember that bin collection days may change over the festive season so keep a note of any updates from your local council.  

If you need to visit a household waste recycling centre, check opening hours and find out if a booking process is currently in place.  

Make space in your wheelie bins by recycling everything that you can, flattening cardboard and squashing plastics and metals. 

Remember that bin collection days may change over the festive season so keep a note of any updates. 

Shop Smart

If you’re heading out to the shops bring reusable shopping bags. Opt for rechargeable batteries rather than disposable batteries in toys.

We are buying more and more online, which means lots of packaging. You do need to separate out different materials - cardboard packaging can be recycled but bubble wrap and polystyrene can’t.

After Christmas, donate, sell or regift any unwanted gifts. Don’t let perfectly good items go to waste.

What to do with Christmas trees? (198)

Wrap it up

When it comes to paper, if you can scrunch it and it stays scrunched you can recycle it (after removing any ribbons sticky tape or gift tags). And don’t forget about the wrapping paper tubes as they can also be recycled.

Meanwhile, gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper are easy to reuse. Just unwrap carefully, remove tape and tags, and keep them to give to different friends or family next year – no-one will ever know!

Glitter is a microplastic and can’t be recycled so try to avoid it, along with foil and sparkles, on Christmas cards and wrapping paper.

Gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper are easy to reuse. Unwrap carefully, remove tape and tags, and keep them to give to different friends or family next year.

Hic hic hooray!

We all know Christmas is a time to get merry with a glass of Bucks Fizz or two. Glass bottles and jars can be recycled over and over again, so put them aside until you can take them to the nearest bottle bank or household recycling centre, or put them in your household recycling collection if available.

Freeze food waste

Writing a shopping list can help prevent food waste and save money and edible leftovers can be popped in the freezer – who doesn’t love Christmas dinner again and again!

Even with the best planning there may still be food waste, and your food caddy wants it all!

From turkey bones, vegetable peelings and brussel sprout trees to seafood shells and tails, tangerine peels and nutshells (and, of course, tea bags and coffee grounds), make sure all your unavoidable food waste and morsels that aren’t made into something else go into the food caddy.

Make the most of metal

Shiny things to include in your metals recycling include that extra-large foil to cover your turkey (just make sure it’s clean), foil trays from mince pies and chocolate coins, sweetie tins, and metal bottle tops. 

Twinkle, twinkle, fairy lights

One of the best things about the darker nights is spreading some festive cheer with twinkling fairy lights.

However, once your lights have lost their sparkle and are no longer in usable condition, remember to recycling them at your local household waste recycling centre along with electrical items (WEEE) Check the recycling locator to find your nearest collection point.

Discover more about what to do with Christmas decorations here.

Gadgets galore

Whether you found a fancier phone wrapped up under the tree, or the hand blender became the ghost of Christmas past halfway through blitzing the gravy, small electricals find themselves out of use for a variety of reasons.

Unfortunately, these pint-sized gizmos are often thrown in the bin due to their small size and end up in landfill where toxins can leak causing soil and water contamination. If your small electrical item is still in good working condition, then it can be passed on for reuse. Otherwise, it’s WEEE - waste electrical and electronic equipment - also known as end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment.

Recycling is the safest way to dispose of your electricals if they can’t be repaired, and allows valuable materials and resources to be recovered.

If your electrical item, toy or game has a plug, uses batteries, needs charging or has a picture of a crossed-out wheelie bin on it, then it can be recycled at a household waste recycling centre or a WEEE recycling site as these are not accepted via household collections.

Batteries are better recycled

Many of us find ourselves replacing batteries over the festive period and, with 25% of households incorrectly placing batteries in the general rubbish bin, it’s important that they are recycled.

Whether AA or rechargeable, all batteries can be recycled and it’s simple, convenient and available in more places than you may realise.

Any shop that sells large volumes of batteries has to offer a recycling collection, so look out for a collection point at your local supermarket the next time you’re out food shopping.

Lithium-ion batteries, the type found in laptops, tablets, and other gadgets, should be removed from your unwanted device if possible and deposited alongside WEEE items.

Recycling is constantly evolving and changing so try our recycling sorter to find out what you can recycle in your area.