A quick guide to recycling at Christmas
December 13, 2021
This quick guide provides advice on how to recycle or dispose of some waste items that commonly cause confusion around this time of the year.
For a list for non-Christmas items, and to find out more about how your recycling is dealt with in Leicestershire, visit our recycling pages.
Whatever the time of year, when recycling please remember to:
- Empty, rinse and dry all bottles and containers.
- Place the lid back on all bottles, jars and containers
- Packaging should be empty, and items should go in loose (separate).
- Flatten cardboard and keep it dry.
Aluminium foil & foil trays
These can be recycled in your kerbside recycling collection. Make sure foil and trays are clean and dry to avoid contaminating other recyclable materials in your collection. Foil should be screwed into a ball at least the size of a ping-pong ball to prevent it being lost during the recycling process.
Artificial trees are not recyclable and will need to be disposed of in your general waste bin (if small enough to fit) or taken to a Recycling and Household Waste Site for disposal. Try to use your tree for as many years as possible before replacing it. Artificial trees in good condition can be donated via charity shops.
Bottles & cans
Can be recycled in your kerbside recycling collection. Remember to rinse out first, drain and then pop the lid back on before recycling. Bottles and cans can also be taken to bring banks and Recycling and Household Waste Sites for recycling.
Calendars and diaries
Calendars and diaries can be recycled provided they are made of paper and card and aren’t covered in plastic or additional decorations. If they are, place them in your general waste bin.
The cardboard sleeve of advent calendars can be separated from the foil covered plastic tray and recycled. The foil covered plastic trays should be placed in the general waste.
Cards and envelopes
All types of envelopes can be recycled in your kerbside recycling collection. Cards can be recycled there too as long as they are not too shiny and don’t contain any glitter or other embellishments. Cards covered with glitter or with lots of other embellishments cannot be recycled and will need to be placed in your general waste bin or reused for home made gift tags.
Clothing, bags and belts
Good quality items can be sold or donated to charity. Some charity shops accept rags also, but check with them first. Unless your council has a dedicated collection bag, textiles including clothing, footwear, handbags, belts, towels, blankets and rags can be taken to a clothes bank or your local Recycling and Household Waste Sites for reuse or recycling.
Crackers tend to be made up of a mix of materials and components making them unsuitable for recycling. Place them in your general waste bin. Consider making or investing in reusable crackers next year.
The majority of decorations are not recyclable and need to be disposed of in your general waste bin or taken to a Recycling and Household Waste Site for disposal. This includes baubles (glass or plastic) and tinsel. If the decorations are in good condition they could be donated to charity instead. Broken baubles and ornaments with sharp edges should be carefully wrapped before disposal to reduce the chance of anyone being harmed.
Fairy lights / Christmas lights
Lights are Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and should be recycled but not in your regular kerbside recycling bin. Some Leicestershire councils offer a special WEEE collection service; check with your local council. Alternatively, all Leicestershire Recycling and Household Waste Sites have WEEE collection points and many electrical retailers also offer WEEE collection points.
Paper and card gift bags can be reused, or recycled in your kerbside recycling collection. Bags with lots of glitter or other embellishments and those made from anything other than paper or cardboard can’t be recycled. These should be reused or placed in your general waste bin.
Gift wrap / Wrapping paper
Paper that’s not shiny or covered in lots of glitter can be recycled in your kerbside recycling collection. Shiny metallic and laminated paper can’t be recycled and should go into your general waste bin. If in doubt do the scrunch test. Tissue and crepe paper can’t be recycled. Gift tags, sticky tape, string, bows and ribbons cannot be recycled and should be removed from recyclable paper and disposed of in your general waste bin.
Leftovers & surplus food
Food waste causes climate change, so surplus food should be eaten, frozen or shared before it becomes inedible. Help with storing and cooking leftovers can be found at http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com. The free Olio app is a good way to share unwanted food items. Food waste should be disposed of in your general waste bin and never in your kerbside recycling collection. Uncooked vegetable peelings can be home composted.
Plastic net bags
The nets from satsumas and nuts are not recyclable and should be disposed of in your general waste bin. Before disposing of them they can be reused as pan scourers.
Polystyrene blocks and small shapes aren’t acceptable in your kerbside recycling collection. Please dispose of them in your general waste bin or at your local Recycling and Household Waste Site.
Real Christmas trees
Check arrangements with your local council. Many offer the collection of real trees via garden waste collections. Trees may need to be cut and trimmed to 1m lengths. Real trees with a trunk diameter of 15cm or less can also be taken to Recycling and Household Waste Sites. Remember to remove pots, holders, decorations and lights from your tree first. Trees left for Leicestershire councils as above will be composted if free from artificial snow.
Sweet and biscuit, tins and boxes
Plastic and metal tins and containers can be recycled in your kerbside recycling collection. Please remove all sweets and sweet wrappers first as these are not recyclable.
Toys and games
Toys in good condition can be donated to charity. Generally toys are not recyclable because they are made of hard plastics and / or a mixture of different materials that aren’t widely recycled. There are specialist recycling schemes available for some toys, but otherwise place small toys in your general waste bin. Larger items can be disposed of at a Recycling and Household Waste Site.
Natural elements (such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, leaves, twigs and pine cones) can be placed in your home compost bin, in your garden waste collection or taken to a Recycling and Household Waste Site to be composted. Everything else can be reused or placed in your general waste bin. Do not compost anything that’s covered in glitter, paint, glue or fake snow.