How To Properly Recycle All Your Christmas Waste

by Lauren Sharkey
How to properly recycle Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and decorations

Now that Christmas has been and gone, your house is probably looking like the stockroom of a department store. Cardboard boxes galore and bags of used wrapping paper are common sights destined for the bin. But there's a more eco-friendly way to dispose of your Christmas clutter this year, and it goes by the name of recycling.

It sounds obvious, but there's a problem. Many put paper, cards, and decorations in the recycling bin without a second's thought. But not everything can be recycled. Without the proper information, you could be creating more waste than you'd anticipated. So here's everything you need to know about proper recycling during the festive season.

Wrapping paper

Research carried out in 2018 by waste management provider Biffa found that around 277,000 miles of wrapping paper will be thrown away during the Christmas period in the UK alone. But disposing of wrapping paper responsibly isn't just a case of putting it in the right bin.

Any paper that is laminated, super thin, or has glitter on it generally isn't suitable for recycling. If you're unsure whether your paper can be recycled, try the scrunch test, reports Metro. Rip off a bit of the wrapping paper and scrunch it into a ball in your hand. If the paper remains in a ball when you open your hand, it's usually good to recycle. If it doesn't stay, it probably has to go in the normal bin.

Before recycling any wrapping paper, remember to remove tape, ribbons, tags, and bows. And don't forget to check whether your local council accepts wrapping paper for recycling.



Waste clearance company Enviro Waste states that a billion cards could be chucked away post-Christmas. While the majority of Christmas cards can be recycled, you still need to remove any glittery parts or bow-type attachments. And it goes without saying that batteries included in cards cannot be recycled in the same bin.


Six million trees. That's how many Christmas trees are thrown away after the big day, according to Enviro Waste. If you have an artificial tree, the only places that may accept them are charity shops. Real trees, however, can be recycled.

Some councils transform them into wood chippings, per Recycle Now, which are then spread over local woodland areas. Check with your local authority for collection or drop-off details. As with the above, make sure you get rid of any decorations, stands, and pots before handing trees over for recycling.


Christmas decorations can be a particularly tricky recycling category. A few items, like tinsel and baubles, can't be recycled. Lights can usually be recycled, although you may have to drop them off a local centre. In fact, any electricals and items that have an image of a crossed out wheelie bin can be recycled, states Recycle Now.

Natural materials like mistletoe used for decorating purposes can, of course, be recycled. But watch out for glitter and artificial attachments such as ribbons. These will need to be removed before recycling.

With a little care this festive season, you can help substantially reduce your Christmas waste. As for any gifts you're not a fan of? There's always someone who'll appreciate them.