Recycling your Christmas trees and cards

Recycling your Christmas trees and cards

06 January 2016, by Sarah Phillips

Traditionally, the Twelfth Night is when people were meant to take down Christmas decorations.


If you’ve yet to take down your Christmas tree and decorations then have you considered recycling them? Perhaps you might keep Christmas tree decorations, festive ornaments and lights, but have you considered what you’re going to do with perishables or things that you are not inclined to / will not keep until next year, such as trees, Christmas cards, wrapping paper and packaging?

It was estimated that the UK would use 300,000 tonnes of card packaging over the Christmas period, which is the equivalent to a motorway constructed entirely of card stretching from Birmingham – Lapland and back 110 times.

If you’re wondering what to do with the Christmas cards you have received this year, perhaps you could consider taking them to an M&S store, where for every 1000 cards they receive Marks and Spencer will sponsor the planting of a tree by Woodland Trust. This scheme has been running for five consecutive years, and the Woodland Trust only plants trees that are native to the British Isles, such as Elder, Wild Cherry, Oak and Beech. Since 2008 over 60 million Christmas cards have been collected and a total of 60,000 trees have been planted. Christmas cards can be in a recycling bin at Marks and Spencer’s stores, and the scheme runs from 2nd January 2016 – 31st January 2016. Alternatively you could consider getting creative and reworking Christmas cards into gift tags for next year, or browsing online for other ways to reuse them.

In Britain we buy approximately eight million Christmas trees every year, and around 6 million of these go to landfill after the Christmas period. There are alternatives to getting a real tree, such as buying a potted tree that can be transferred to your garden after Christmas and then brought inside for the festive period again. If you insist on buying a real tree, consider burning it at home. This releases as much carbon as was used during the tree’s growth, thus having no impact on emission. Alternatively you could enquire with your local authority as to whether they have a tree recycling scheme, or return it to a tree farm or garden centre.

One of the highlights of Christmas is definitely Christmas dinner. The amount of waste produced from it though is astonishing. Waste from the meal can be reduced by planning ahead. Where possible, food in recyclable packaging could be purchased, and plans could be made for additional meals made with the leftovers and turkey bones. Remember to recycle glass bottles and sauce jars. In the UK every Christmas 13,350 tonnes of glass is thrown out, yet if the glass was to be recycled instead it was save 4,200 tonnes of CO2.


Clegg Gifford has been placing recycling insurance and waste occupations for over 40 years. 


Image c/o phip_s