Christmas Trees And Gifts In Recycling Bin

A complete guide to recycling Christmas responsibly

As we start to think about taking down the Christmas decs and clearing away the leftovers, let’s stop and think about how we’re going to dispose of it all.

According to GWP Group, an extra 30% of rubbish is produced and discarded throughout the festive period when compared with the rest of the year. This additional waste can be as much as 3 million tonnes!

Here is a guide to what you can recycle from your Christmas festivities and how to do it:

Recycling Symbol As Christmas Tree

Real Christmas Trees

The fresh smell of pine from a real Christmas tree can make you feel that little bit more festive! But what do you do with it once Christmas is over? Well, most councils offer a service where they will collect your tree from outside your home for free or for a small fee. Check your local council website to find out when and how they will be collecting.

Trees will then be shredded into chippings which are then used locally in parks or woodland areas.

Present Next To Green Bin

Wrapping Paper

Consumers in the UK will use approximately 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year and over 83km2 of this will end up in the bin. Instead, check your local council’s website to see if they accept wrapping paper. If so, follow the scrunch test! If it stays scrunched up it can be recycled. Remember to remove all sellotape before recycling.

If your wrapping paper isn’t recyclable or your bags are full, you could try to keep undamaged wrapping paper for next year or cut it up and make it into present tags.

Pile Of Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards

As most Christmas cards are made from cardboard they can be recycled as normal. However, if they have glitter on them, they won’t be able to be recycled. Again, why not keep these and turn them into tags for next year’s presents or let the kids create some lovely pictures with them instead.

Pile Of Cardboard Boxes


If like many of us, you’ve done a virtual Christmas shopping trip this year, you’re home is probably full of cardboard boxes! According to Resource Magazine, we use around 300,000 tonnes of card packaging every Christmas (the equivalent of two million reindeer!) Be sure to recycle your cardboard with your recycling collections or take it to your local household waste recycling centre if you have a few too many.

Instead of recycling, you could always create a fort for the kids to play in or make cardboard cars for racing games. We all know that the boxes are usually the most fun toy at Christmas!

Girl Holding Plastic Bottle Recycling

Plastic Packaging

As well as cardboard, many gifts come in plastic packaging and it can be hard to know whether it can be recycled or not. Most recyclable packing has the recycle symbol located somewhere on it. If you’re not sure, check your local council’s website to see what plastic recycling they accept. All clear and coloured plastic bottles from the home can usually be recycled, including bleach containers.

Box Of Food Recycling


We’re all guilty of buying way too much food over Christmas! If your fridge and cupboard are still pretty full with food that’s just about to reach the use-by date, try out some of these great Christmas leftover recipes. They can be used for the days after Christmas and you won’t end up having 5 Christmas dinners!

If you have lots of long-life food such as pasta or tinned goods clogging up your cupboard, why not donate some to your local food bank. Many supermarkets have trolleys for food donations over the Christmas period or you can drop them directly to the food bank itself.

Recycle Symbol With Batteries


Fairy lights, kids toys and games means a lot of batteries! According to Recycle More, the UK throws away around 600 million batteries every year with Christmas just adding to the load. Many local stores and supermarkets have battery recycling stations and you can find your nearest one here. Alternatively, you can recycle batteries at your local waste recycling centre.

Fairy Lights Close Up

Christmas Decorations

Many people like to keep their Christmas decorations for every year as many of them hold lots of fond memories. If yours have passed their best though, you can recycle natural decorations such as ivy, fir cones, mistletoe and holly. As long as they aren’t covered in glitter, they can be composted. Fairy lights should also be reused but if they are broken, you can take them to your local household waste recycling centre.

Glass and plastic baubles, as well as tinsel, unfortunately, cannot be recycled.

Appliances In Donation Box

Gadgets and Appliances

If you’ve received new appliances or the latest technology for Christmas, remember to dispose of your old ones responsibly. According to The Global E-waste Statistics Partnership, 2019 set a record for the amount of e-waste ever generated worldwide.  Approximately 53.6 million metric tons of discarded phones, computers, appliances, and other gadgets were sent to landfill, a whopping 21% increase since 2014.

If these items are still working they can be given away to charity shops or sold on consumer sights to help someone else in need. If they are broken, you could fix them and sell them on or if they are beyond repair, they can be recycled or upcycled into something new. Check out our tips on how to recycle your old goods and stop the growing problem of e-waste.

So let’s start as we mean to go on and recycle as much of our Christmas waste as possible to help protect our environment.

Check out some other ways that you can help to save the planet and make your own sustainable new years resolution!

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