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Recycle right this Christmas

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A lot of the extra waste created during the festive season can be recycled. Most of us recycle lots at this time of year, but are we getting it right? Visit the pages listed below to find out more about what can and can't be recycled over the festive season.

How to recycle Christmas trees

'Real' Christmas trees can be recycled and turned into chippings for parks. Some local authorities have special collections or organise drop-off points. Otherwise they can be taken to your Recycling Centre. Check your local authority website for more details.

Tip: Remember to remove all tinsel and decorations and any pots or stands!

Find out more about how to recycle Christmas trees
Christmas tree

How to recycle Christmas decorations


Glass baubles are not recyclable. Broken glass baubles should be disposed of by wrapping and putting in with general waste.

Plastic baubles are usually made from types of plastic not widely collected yet in the UK and are likely to be covered with glitter which would impact on the recycling process so should also go in the general waste.


Tinsel cannot be recycled. If your tinsel has finally lost its sparkle and needs to be thrown away please dispose of it in the waste bin.


Natural materials on wreaths, such as ivy, fir cones, mistletoe and holly, can be composted as long as they are not covered with excessive glitter. Simply remove the greenery from the base and add to your garden or green waste collection, or drop at your local Recycling Centre. Artificial decorations such as ribbons and plastic flowers will need to be removed as these cannot be recycled.

Tip: Unwanted decorations in good condition can be donated to charity shops for re-sale and re-use.

Find out more about how to recycle Christmas decorations and packaging

How to recycle Christmas cards

Most cards are paper-based and can be recycled, along with their envelopes, either in your home recycling collection, at local recycling points such as Recycling Centres or at banks in supermarket car parks etc.

Tip: Any extras such as ribbons, glitter or bows cannot be recycled and need to be removed by tearing off that part of the card.

Find out more how to recycle Christmas cards
Christmas cards

How to recycle Christmas tree lights

Fairy lights can be recycled with small electricals at Recycling Centres. Some local authorities collect small electricals as part of their recycling collections and may also provide collection bins at other sites too, for example at supermarkets.

Find out more about recycling Christmas tree lights

Good to know

Illustration of bin with cross through it

Any items that have a plug, use batteries, need charging or have a picture of a crossed out wheelie bin on, are known as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

These items should not be sent to landfill and should be recycled at Recycling Centres, electrical item bring banks or via electrical retailers - visit to find out more.

Find your nearest locations to recycle electrical items
a box sits on a table with broken Christmas lights pouring out

How to recycle Christmas wrapping paper

Due to the make-up of wrapping paper and the amount of sticky tape and embellishments that cause problems at recycling plants, some local authorities do not accept wrapping paper for recycling - visit our how to recycle wrapping paper page to find out more.

Tip: Do the scrunch test! If your local authority does collect wrapping paper for recycling, only non-foil paper will be accepted. To check, scrunch up the paper and if it doesn't spring back it is non-foil and can be recycled.

Find out more about how to recycle wrapping paper

How to recycle cardboard

If you've ordered goods online this Christmas, it's likely your items were delivered in boxes or envelopes made from corrugated cardboard which is widely recycled by local authorities.

Tip: Remember to remove any plastic or polystyrene inserts and excess sticky tape from cardboard boxes before recycling.

Find out more about recycling cardboard

How to recycle batteries

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 around town.

Find out more about how to recycle batteries

Thinking ahead with our New Year's recycling resolutions

The beginning of a brand new year is a time when many of us set goals or intentions for the year ahead, and it's never too early to start planning some resolutions around recycling! If you need some inspiration, here are Five New Year’s Recycling Resolutions.

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