Your ultimate Christmas recycling guide

December 19, 2022

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Cards, wrapping paper, old decorations… Come January our wheelie bins will be feeling the strain! Here’s a helpful guide on how you can maximise your recycling over the festive period and keep recyclables out of landfill.


If you’re getting rid of decorations to make way for new ones, consider donating anything that’s still in good condition. Charity shops, local schools and good causes are often on the lookout for decs – try reaching out to a few. They might be happy to take them off your hands!

Glass baubles aren’t recyclable – if you’re throwing away a broken one, wrap it up carefully and put it in with general waste.

Most plastic baubles are made from types of plastic not widely collected yet in the UK. Tinsel can’t be recycled either. Pop both of these in the general waste.

If you’ve got a natural wreath, you’ll be able to put any real branches, pinecones or leaves into your garden waste bin or take them to your nearest recycling centre. Just make sure you take off any bows or plastic berries – you can use them for decorating next year.


Most cards are recyclable – just tear off any parts with any embellishments, like bows or glitter, and put those in the general waste or find another use for them.

If you’re really looking to boost your eco credentials – get creative! Upcycle old cards and embellishments to make gift tags or garlands.


Some gift wrap can be recycled kerbside and at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. Not sure if your paper’s recyclable? Do the scrunch test! Scrunch up the paper and if it doesn’t spring back, it’s non-foil and can be recycled. Just take off any tape.

If the paper has a decorative coating or glossy surface it should be disposed of in the general waste bin.

Got loads of gift bags? Re-use them next year. Just add a new tag or make your own.


While artificial trees can’t be recycled, some charity shops will take them if they’re in a good condition.

Real trees can be recycled – they’re shredded and turned into chippings that get used locally in parks or woodland areas. Remember to remove all tinsel and decorations and any pots or stands. There are usually dedicated drop off spots organised by the local authority.

Live in L14, L28, L34, L35, L36, WA9, WA10, WA11 or WA12? Willowbrook Hospice will come and collect your Christmas tree for you in return for a donation which will go towards patient care and family support services at the hospice.

Volunteers will be collecting real trees and taking them to be recycled from Monday 9 – Friday 20 January 2023.

Click here to book your collection.

Food packaging

Metal can be recycled again and again without losing quality. So, keep your mince pie cases and any clean cooking foil, scrunch it up and pop it in the recycling bin.

Contamination in recycling can mean whole loads could end up in landfill, undoing your good work. Any plastic food trays or bottles need to be cleaned really well (well enough that they could be used again) before going in your bin.

Electrical items

Did you know anything with a plug, battery or cable can be reused or recycled? A massive 75% of the materials in old electricals can be recycled and turned into anything from life-saving equipment to children’s playgrounds.

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). They shouldn’t be put in with your regular household waste. If you’re getting rid of old Christmas lights or any old gadgets, take them to a recycling centre.

Don’t forget to check that the batteries have been taken out! Crushed batteries cause hundreds of fires every year in recycling centres, bins and recycling lorries. Help keep our waste disposal teams safe by checking for any hidden batteries. is a brilliant resource to help you repair, recycle or donate your unwanted electricals. Check it out!