Recycling at Christmas

What can and can’t be recycled?

There is not a universal yes or no answer for the recycling of used Christmas items as it all depends on the item

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Wrapping paper – Any paper without glitter, foil or a shiny coating can be placed in your recycling – so long as all bows, Sellotape and ribbons are removed. Shiny metallic and glitter wrapping paper is not recyclable and needs to go in your general waste.
Christmas cards – Plain cards can be recycled, however if you have any cards with glitter, glue or a 3D image on them you can tear them in half and recycle the glitter-free back part and put the glitter side in your general waste.
Baubles – Glass baubles are not recyclable and plastic baubles are usually made from types of plastic not widely recycled yet.
Tinsel, foil decorations, Christmas trees (both real and artificial), used paper napkins and old fairy lights should NOT be put in your recycling.

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Artificial Christmas trees in good condition can be donated to friends, family, or a good cause such as a charity, nursing home or local school.
Delivery boxes – Most of these will be cardboard which is recyclable, however ensure to remove all Sellotape, cable ties and ID labels then these can go in the recycling. To conserve as much room in your (probably already full) recycling bin squash boxes flat. Try to leave as little as possible outside when waiting for it to be collected as it can become wet and this causes problems at the recycling plant.
Polystyrene used for packaging cannot be recycled and must go in your household bin.
– Glass Bottles, Foil, metal and plastic tubs & tins can be recycled providing they are clean.


What can you reuse?

Christmas cards and wrapping paper can be reused for a range of items. Even if you’re not very artistic of good at crafts we’ve found some easy options of what to do with your old cards and wrapping paper. These are great to do with the kids and can be free decorations for next year!

Gift Tags

Rather than purchasing new gift tags each year, you can turn your old Christmas cards into gift tags and you’ll have a constant supply of good quality, different tags.

  • Collect all of the Christmas cards that have been sent to you choose the ones that look nice and don’t have writing on them
  • Cut out the image/pattern you would like to use for your tag, either using the shape (e.g. of a Christmas tree/bauble) or if it a pattern then cut out a circle or square that is big enough to write a message on the plain side
  • Punch a hole into the top of the tag that you can put a ribbon/string through which makes it easy to attach the tag
  • Any bits left of the card you can recycle as usual (providing it does not have glitter on).

Garland or Paper Chains

  • Collect the Christmas cards and some string/ribbon
  • Cut out shapes from the Christmas card, whether that be the item itself or the pattern (Cookie cutters can be used for a tracing template)
  • Cut a length of string long enough to hang on the wall or around the tree, the length is up to you!
  • Attach the cut out shapes to the string using sellotape or blue tack
  • Hang as and when or put away for next year
  • For paper chains cuts out the shapes in a strip, loop round and staple together

Tree Ornaments

  • Cut out the shape/image from the Christmas card, hole punch the top and put a ribbon/string through to attach to the tree
  • Or attach to another item to hang on the tree, such as pieces of wood, old jar lids, cloth material etc.
What to do with your real Christmas tree & wreaths

If you cannot dispose of this yourself through compost/your garden waste bin, the best option is to take your tree to the nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre. From there the trees are collected, shredded and then made into compost which is great for gardens and other grasslands. You can also burn your real tree on a bonfire or fireplace so long as it is safe and legal to do so.

If you have a wreath made from natural materials such as ivy, holly or fir tree clippings you can compost the greenery once you have removed it from its base (provided there is no glitter). Or this can go in your garden waste bin.

Waste at Christmas

Over Christmas the UK creates 30% more waste than usual, including 2 million Turkeys and 6 million Christmas Trees. That is why recycling and reusing Christmas items is so important.

  • 1 Billion cards end up in the bin, when they could be recycled
  • The amount of wrapping paper used for presents is enough to wrap around the equator 9 times
  • Up to 6 million real Christmas trees are thrown away after Christmas, when they could be used for firewood or compost
  • 2 million Turkeys are thrown away every Christmas when they could be used for leftover such as sandwiches, pies or even to the dog! (they like Christmas dinners too…)
Ways to avoid waste
  • Use recycled paper for present wrapping or get creative with old newspapers or brown paper
  • Make a shopping list and only buy what you need to avoid waste (and save money!)
  • Recycle & Upcycle!
  • Turn old items into decorations (get in touch with your crafty side)