With so many tasty treats and exciting gifts shared each year, Christmas is certainly a season of indulgence. With so much to enjoy, it is important to consider the impact of the excess waste that comes with the celebrations – and how you can help minimise the damage.

While an entirely ‘green’ Christmas might be out of the question, knowing what you can and can’t recycle during the holidays will help improve your environmental impact. Once you have an idea, the recycling process will be simple to follow. 

What can you recycle at Christmas?

Wrapping paper

Wrapping paper is one of the biggest nightmares for environmentalists. Often because it is generally laminated or made with non-paper materials. As long as wrapping paper is recycled efficiently, the damage can be minimal. When throwing wrapping paper away, remember that any with glitter or foil on are not recyclable and it is best to take it to the landfill instead. Check wrapping paper thoroughly for sellotape and non-paper materials before recycling.

Christmas cards

Christmas cards are one of the most recycled seasonal items and it makes sense as to why. Most cards are made from paper and can be placed in the recycling bin without a second thought. However, any cards with decorative foil or glitter are not recyclable like normal paper or cards are.

Christmas wreaths

Natural wreaths, decorated with real flowers and greenery, can be put in your garden waste bin after Christmas. Any wreaths decorated with glue, glitter or plastic are not recyclable and must be put in a general waste bin.

Cardboard boxes

The festive period brings over 300,000 tonnes of cardboard each year and, with plenty of children’s toys circulating in the UK at Christmas, it is great to know that cardboard is easily recycled as long as you remove any tape and anything inside beforehand.

Christmas trees

Christmas trees can be turned into wood chippings if recycled correctly. If you have a real Christmas tree, you can cut it up into smaller pieces and place it in your garden waste bin. If you do not have the tools to chop up the tree, you can find out more information about how you can recycle it from your local council, which may offer a collection service.


Electronics are the most highly recycled items over the festive period. As luxury gifts replace your old gadgets, the option to recycle them through many gadget recycling services online is available. Keep in mind that if your electronics are non-recyclable, you must check the guidelines before getting rid of them – you can’t just throw them in the bin! 

Electronics can also include things like decorative fairy lights that are broken or unwanted. These must be taken to a recycling centre and not thrown in the bin.


Any leftover festive treats, from meats to vegetables, can go in your food waste bin. It is crucial to ensure that there are no materials such as foil or plastic wrapping still attached. With a lot of parties happening over the holidays, many people will purchase paper cups and plates to take away the stress of washing up. Make sure to clean them properly so you can place them in the paper recycling bin.

What can you not recycle at Christmas?

Broken Christmas decorations and tinsel

Tinsel and broken baubles, whether they are glass or plastic, can not be recycled in the UK and should be placed in your general waste bin.

Plastic packaging

Most plastic packaging is not recyclable. Check the packaging for the recycling symbols before discarding them to be 100% sure, but you can get in touch with your local council to double-check. Most plastic bottles are recyclable. 

Christmas can be chaotic, and getting rid of the waste it leaves behind can feel frustrating. At Valley Trading, we have a wide range of skip hire solutions to suit every requirement. Get in touch with us today to find out more.