IMPORTANT - Mixed Recycling – What can really go in the bin?

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A Merry Recycling Christmas


In all the excitement of Christmas it is often overlooked the mountain of waste we produce from Christmas wrapping paper, used packaging, christmas cards, the tree and its decorations. A few tips from Clearaway for a Merry Christmas with less waste.

1. Christmas Wrapping Paper

While all types brand themselves as ‘paper’, many varieties are actually incredibly difficult to recycle thanks to the addition of glitter, shining foils and shimmery add-ons, as well as layers of sticky tape and accessory ribbons.

To help you determine which types of wrapping paper you can recycle, all you need to do is perform the simple ‘scrunch test’. Here’s how it’s done…

The wrapping paper recycling test

Step 1. Take the wrapping paper in your hand and scrunch it together into a tight ball.

Step 2. Open your hand to see if the paper stays scrunched together or bounces back open.

Step 3. If the paper stays scrunched in a ball, then you know it can be recycled. If, however, it bounces back open, then it can’t be recycled.

Step 4. If yes to step 3 remove sticky tape and bows, ribbons etc and place in your recycling bin.

Before you place your wrapping paper in the recycling bin, ensure to remove any sticky tape, bows and ribbons, as these can’t be recycled. If you can, avoid using these at all.

2. Used Packaging

It is likely that most presents have some form of packaging. Cardboard is widely recycled and can go in your recycling bin. Plastics are a bit more difficult so check for the recycling symbols on the packaging.

3. Christmas Cards

All glitter free cards can be recycled.

4. Christmas Tree

Real trees can be recycled into wood chippings. Most Local Authorities advertise designated days in January to recycle. Artificial trees cannot be recycled but you could donate to your local charity shop to be reused. Hopefully you can reuse most of your decorations next year. Worn out stuff such as fairy lights are classed as electrical waste and should be taken to your local household recycling centre. Tinsel and broken baubles cannot be recycled and unfortunately have to go in the general waste bin.

Christmas Waste Facts and Tips

  • At Christmas, we use enough card packaging to cover Big Ben nearly 260,000 times.
  • If we recycle all the card packaging used at Christmas, it will save enough energy to light 340 Blackpool Illuminations.
  • We could make a cardboard motorway stretching from Birmingham to Lapland and back 110 times with all the card packaging we use at Christmas. Good thing most of us recycle!
  • Approximately 1 billion Christmas Cards will end up in bins – the equivalent of 33 million trees.
  • In the UK we will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each Christmas .
  • Food and drink cartons need only a quick rinse, and can be flattened to save space in your recycling bin.
  • Lots of people recycled their Christmas cards last year. All glitter-free greeting cards can be recycled. If possible, tear off the glitter section as well as any non-paper items like badges and batteries.
  • Flattening it saves space, just don’t leave it out in the rain – if cardboard is wet, mold sets in and it can’t be recycled.
  • Most people recycle, but it’s important to do it right. Remove plastic film and sticky tape from paper and card packaging before recycling it.