From Glitter to Turkeys to Bubble Wrap: Biffa Clears Up Christmas Recycling Confusion


Biffa is helping baffled Brits understand what they should put in their recycling bins this Christmas, with advice on what to do with common festive waste this season.

Biffa research shows that although most of us want to be more environmentally friendly at Christmas, one in three feels confused about what they should and should not recycle.

With an extra 277,000 miles of wrapping paper and 74 million mince pies estimated to be thrown away after the festivities, Biffa wants to make recycling as easy as possible, so that waste is treated sustainably and converted back into useful material.

Steve Oulds, National Commercial Manager for Biffa Material Recycling Facilities, said: “We know it can often be tricky working out what should go into our recycling bins, especially at Christmas when there is lots of extra waste – Biffa recycling centres receive about 40% more material than usual during the first two weeks of January, including a lot of things that can’t actually be recycled. Our simple guide of what to do with typical festive waste will help people have a greener Christmas this year and our number 1 tip is: always double check packaging to see if it can be recycled.”

Guide to Christmas recycling:  

  1. CHRISTMAS CARDS: Simple Christmas cards are recyclable – but those with embellishments such as glitter and plastic are not, so need to go in the general waste. 
  2. WRAPPING PAPER: Not all wrapping paper is recyclable. If it has glitter or finishing effects like gloss it isn’t. A good test to tell if it is recyclable is to scrunch it in a ball – if it doesn’t stay scrunched after opening your hand, it cannot be recycled. 
  3. POLYSTYRENE: While cardboard and paper packaging can usually be recycled, polystyrene, which is often used to protects toys and presents, cannot. 
  4. BUBBLE WRAP: Unfortunately, because bubble wrap is made of complex plastic, it cannot go in the recycling bin. 
  5. ELECTRICS: If you are replacing tree lights this year, please do not put the old ones in the recycling – for electric goods to be recycled, they need to be sent to specialist electrical recycling centres.
  6. CRACKERS: Crackers can be recycled if they are made from simple card – any decorations and contents should be removed before the rest is recycled.
  7. FOOD WASTE:  If you have a food waste bin, all unwanted food at Christmas such as turkey carcasses, vegetables or stale mince pies can be put in these.
  8. CHRISTMAS TREES: Christmas trees can be recycled – but not in your household recycling. Make sure you find out the right place to send your tree, or the date your council collects them where you live.

Cory Reynolds, Corporate Affairs Director at Biffa, added: “At Biffa we are committed to contributing to a sustainable future built around a circular economy in the UK, with recycling being a vital part of this.

“We are significant investors in recycling infrastructure.  Earlier this year we opened a £27.5 plastic recycling facility in County Durham capable of recycling over 1.3 billion bottles annually and our plans don’t stop there – we expect to quadruple our recycling capacity by 2030.

“Whilst having the right infrastructure is key, it is vital that we promote awareness around how waste can be disposed of responsibly and recycled wherever possible. Christmas is a time when there is a significant amount of extra waste produced by homes and businesses, and we want to help address Christmas recycling confusion this year by supporting people to make the right decisions around their waste and recycling.”
Infographic_ Biffa's Festive Recycling Guide1024_1

Martin is a journalist and PR executive of Commercial Waste Magazine. He has worked in the commercial waste and recycling industry for over a decade and is dedicated to raising public awareness in the amount of recyclable waste being sent to landfill every year.

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