Recycling Christmas waste

If you’ve been dreaming of a green Christmas and new year, recycling more of the right things could make a difference to the environment and is cheaper for the council to dispose of than rubbish. You can:

  • Recycle all cardboard food packaging. If you’ve accumulated more recycling than usual over Christmas, it can be put out for collection in clear plastic bags or in a cardboard box next to your blue-lidded wheelie bin
  • Recycle cardboard delivery and toy boxes by folding them down to make more room in your recycling bin
  • Place all paper cards, envelopes and wrapping (except those with glitter, foil or plastic) in your recycling bin. Bows and ribbons can be kept for reuse
  • Empty, rinse and dry all plastic food and drink packaging before it goes in your recycling bin – and place all items loose (not bagged)
  • Place items which can’t be recycled such as hard plastic storage boxes, polystyrene, bubble wrap and flexible plastic film in your rubbish bin. To find other recycling schemes to dispose of some of these items, please visit

Christmas trees

Great if you can replant and reuse your tree next year. Real trees can be recycled and turned into chippings for use in parks or woodland areas, but they can’t be put into recycling bins.

If you’re a Green Waste Club member, please cut up your tree (maximum tree trunk diameter 10cm) and put it in your brown wheelie bin for collection.

If you’re not a Green Waste Club member, you can take it to the community recycling centres at Bond Road, Warlingham, or Chaldon Road, Caterham. Don’t recycle real wreaths or trees that have been sprayed, painted or contain wire you can’t remove. These should be thrown away. Plastic ones can be reused next year.

Artificial Christmas trees can’t be recycled, as they are made up of multiple materials, including metal and plastic.

Food waste

Our waste contractor Biffa’s 2020 Christmas recycling guide says two million turkeys and 74 million mince pies are left uneaten over the Christmas period in the UK.

You can always:

  • Freeze any cooked or uncooked food you didn’t get around to eating
  • Put food that can’t be eaten, like bones, eggshells and peelings into your food caddy
  • Donate unopened food and long-life products to food banks and in date fresh produce to your local community fridge

Wrapping paper

Biffa also says 277,000 miles of wrapping paper goes to waste. For wrapping paper that can’t be reused, an easy way to tell if it can be recycled is the “scrunch test”. Screw up the paper and if it unfolds, it can’t be recycled, but if it stays neatly scrunched it can be put into the recycling bin.

If you have any comments/questions, please get in touch:

Catherine Sayer

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