12 tricky items and how to recycle them this Christmas
Christmas is a time when we produce more recyclable waste than any other time of year. So it is more important than ever to nail our recycling over Christmas to do our bit for the planet and help Wales move up the recycling rankings from third to first in the world.
But what about those trickier items that we come across during the festive season? From advent calendars to Christmas crackers, our recycling list is a one-stop shop for learning how to dispose of the items that cause the most confusion over Christmas.
1. Advent calendars
Once you’ve opened the final door of your advent calendar and you’re ready to get rid of the packaging, separate the cardboard from the inner tray. The outer cardboard packaging can be flattened and recycled, while the inner tray cannot be recycled so put in your general rubbish bin with your non-recyclable waste.
2. Wrapping paper
All wrapping paper, with or without foil or glitter, shouldn’t be placed out to be recycled. Why? Some wrapping paper has a very high ink content or often contains other materials such as plastics which cannot be recycled. It can also be very thin and therefore has few good quality fibres for recycling meaning it is rejected during the recycling process.
Try to save large sheets of wrapping paper to use again or you could even think about using an ‘eco-alternative’, such as wrapping presents in fabric or using a gift bag. Otherwise, please place wrapping paper into your bag or bin for your non-recyclable waste.
3. Christmas cards and envelopes
Christmas cards can be recycled but remove any ribbons, bows, glitter or foil before putting into your recycling. If your paper and card is recycled separately, place cards in your cardboard container and place envelopes in your paper container.
4. Food waste
We consume more food at Christmas than any other time of year. While 80% of us recycle our food waste, not all of us recycle every item. So remember to recycle everything you can this Christmas in your food waste caddy, including turkey bones, fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells, nut shells, tea bags and all other inedible food. By doing this you’ll be directly helping to tackle climate change. Find out how: www.walesrecycles.org.uk/food
Wondering how to dispose of your cooking foil or mince pie cases? All clean foil can be recycled. Empty, rinse and scrunch foil items before popping them into your recycling. It will help them get through the sorting process without getting lost.
6. Christmas crackers
With the exception of the inner cardboard core inside your cracker, all other parts such as the ‘snapping’ mechanism, the outer colourful paper, and internal parts such as coloured paper hats, small toys or trinkets and small pieces of paper containing jokes, aren’t recyclable and should be placed in your bag or bin for non-recyclable waste.
If you are unable to separate the cardboard core from the remainder of your cracker, then the whole cracker should be placed in the non-recyclable waste.
There’ll be a lot of shiny new gadgets and devices being gifted this Christmas. But if you have any old items that are broken and can’t be repaired, these items must not be sent to landfill but disposed of at designated sites such as household waste recycling centres. Any item with a plug or that uses batteries is classed as WEEE - Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment.
8. Christmas décor – tinsels & baubles
Christmas decorations such as baubles and tinsel can be reused for many years. However, if yours are no longer suitable for you, but they still have life left in them, try looking for somewhere that might reuse them, such as a charity or reuse shop, or build them into Christmas craft projects.
But if you need to dispose of broken glass baubles, please wrap them securely and put them into your bag or bin for your non-recyclable waste.
Plastic baubles are usually made from types of plastic or composite materials which are not currently widely recycled in the UK, and are likely to be covered with glitter, which would impact on the recycling process. Please place these into your bag or bin for your non-recyclable waste.
Tinsel also can’t be recycled. If your tinsel has finally lost its sparkle and needs to be thrown away, please put it into your bag or bin for your non-recyclable waste.
9. Christmas trees – Real & artificial
'Real' Christmas trees are 100% recyclable and can be turned into chipping for parks. Check with your local council to see if they'll collect them with your garden waste or if you can take them to your local recycling centre.
Artificial Christmas trees are made from a combination of materials and therefore cannot be recycled. Unwanted trees in good condition may be accepted by charity shops for re-sale and re-use.
10. Christmas lights
If your Christmas tree lights are no longer working, please take these to your local recycling centre and place them with ‘small electrical appliances’ or dispose of at the kerbside if your council provides a small WEEE collection.
All those new toys and gadgets mean more batteries to recycle. Some local authorities collect batteries bagged separately with household recycling but there are also many battery recycling points in shops and supermarkets.
Having a wardrobe clear out after receiving new clothes this Christmas? Remember that no clothes should end up in the bin. Clothing in good condition can be sold or donated to charity. If you have something that is no longer wearable, it can be recycled at a textile bank. Or could you upcycle it into something else? Check out Love Your Clothes for advice and inspiration.
Not sure what you can recycle? This will depend largely on what your local authority can accept. To make sure you know which materials can be recycled, visit our Recycling Locator Tool – just pop in your postcode into the 'What to put in your recycling at home' option.