The Truth About Christmas & New Year Waste | CRL News

The Truth About Christmas & New Year Waste

While we may all be more aware of the effect that our waste has on the environment, it doesn’t stop thousands of tonnes of waste being produced (and often improperly disposed of) over the festive season.

So whilst it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that the Christmas and New Year period produces more waste than any other time of year, it might amaze you to learn just how much!

How much waste is produced at Christmas?

According to High Speed Training, an extra 30% of waste is produced at Christmas in Britain, compared to the rest of the year. That may not sound too bad, but it adds up to a whopping 3 million tonnes of waste – plenty of which ends up in landfill!

To put this in perspective, a single tonne that ends up in landfill costs taxpayers £94.00. If even half of the extra waste produced at Christmas in 2020 ended up in landfill, that’s £141mil!

What’s worse; a study found that 60% of Brits don’t feel bad about the extra waste that they produce over Christmas. With only 10% of Brits encouraging their families to be a bit more environmentally-conscious during this time. With this in mind, it appears we still have a long way to go before this situation is improved.

Plastic waste at Christmas

Plastic is one of the most problematic types of Christmas waste produced, due to the fact that not all plastic is easily recycled.

The main cause of plastic waste at Christmas is packaging. This includes the packaging of toys, bubble wrap used to ensure the safe delivery of gifts, food packaging and many more examples.

In fact, it’s estimated that each British household throws away 3.5 black bags worth of packaging from toys and gifts over Christmas!

Other reasons excess plastic waste is created as a result of Christmas include:

  • 14% of people with fake Christmas trees bin them at the end of the year.
  • Around 40 million rolls of sellotape are used each Christmas.
  • 3000 tonnes of plastic waste is from turkey packaging alone!

Whilst Christmas is a great excuse to spoil our friends and family with gifts, and to overindulge in food and drink, why not put a little extra thought to the plastic waste that you’re producing in 2021?

If you’ve found yourself with large volumes of plastic waste that you’d like to recycle, we offer low-cost mixed plastic disposal at our local recycling centres.

Card and paper waste at Christmas

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise – as a nation we produce an astounding amount of card and paper waste over the festive season.

In total, we bin approximately 108 million rolls of wrapping paper (that’s 227,000 miles worth!), and 1 billion Christmas cards. Don’t forget about all of the cardboard boxes that Christmas food and gifts come in too!

The good news is that 98% of paper and cardboard waste is recyclable. As a recycling centre with purpose-built facilities and specialist processes, we are able to provide very low cost disposals for paper and card. To learn more and see our current rates, please visit our ‘Tipping Prices’ page. To help out, we’re currently running a special offer on cardboard recycling.

Top tip for 2021 – Wrapping paper and cards that have glitter on them are not accepted by most recyclers. In fact, many UK councils will now deem a whole bin’s worth of waste ‘contaminated’ if it contains glitter! Next year, why not skip the glitter to avoid this.

Other commonly produced Christmas waste types


It’s not all just paper and plastic – each Christmas we also throw away approximately 500 tonnes of fairy lights. Also, new toys, decorations and lights all demand batteries, 189 million in fact!

WEEE waste can’t always be disposed of with normal waste, but can be recycled at specialist facilities such as Canford Recycling Centre. Learn more about WEEE recycling.


There’s not many households and businesses that don’t put up a Christmas tree come 1st December, with 8 million of us opting for real ones over plastic. That’s a lot of trees that then get binned once the festivities are over!

Many councils offer specific Christmas tree collections, or there’s the option to get a green household bin and chop the tree up to fit inside. If these options don’t work for you, or perhaps you have multiple trees at your place of work, you can bring your tree(s) to us at Commercial Recycling for low cost green waste disposal.

Let us help with your Christmas & New Year waste

If you run a business that could use a little extra help disposing of its Christmas or New Year waste, we operate fully licenced recycling centres in Dorset and Somerset that are here to help.

You can contact us for help with tipping a wide variety of waste types, or to arrange a waste collection directly from your premises. We’d also be happy to help you plan your waste management for 2021.

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