Christmas wrapping

December 22, 2021, by sustainablenottingham

Be sustainable for Santa this Christmas

Hello and welcome to the latest in a series of blogs on sustainable waste management. My name is Louis and I work for the university’s sustainable waste management provider, Enva. This article provides information on what can and cannot be recycled over Christmas.

It is always important to consider the waste hierarchy(see bottom of page) before making any purchases. Remember that even though recycling is a good option, ultimately it will always be more sustainable to not create waste in the first place.

Christmas creates some unusual waste that we might not see day to day. It is still important to make sure these are disposed of correctly to avoid unnecessarily adding to landfill. While this information should be accurate for the majority, you should always check online here for your local recycling scheme.

Christmas trees

Your options for Christmas tree disposal are different depending on whether your have a real or artificial Christmas tree.

Christmas trees

Unfortunately, artificial Christmas trees belong to a category of waste we call composite materials. This means that the waste is made up of a variety of materials such as plastic and foil that we cannot separate meaning sadly that it cannot be recycled.

Genuine Christmas tree’s however do have recyclable routes for disposal. Most council’s offer Christmas tree collection schemes. After collection, these trees are shredded and turned into chippings. These are used to cover the floors in parks and local woodland areas.

Christmas lights

A scenario that everyone can relate to is trying to set up your Christmas fairy lights after their year in storage only to find that they no longer work. The good news is that these items are recyclable. Anything with a battery or a plug falls under the category of WEEE (Waste Electrical Equipment). These items can be recycled by local recycling centres. Some councils even provide local WEEE waste collection points at supermarkets for convenient disposal.


Batteries are one of the most frequently used products over the Christmas period. A study found that over Christmas, Brits will use 189 million batteries. Batteries are treated as hazardous waste in the UK so these should not be put in a general waste bin. If you’re experiencing a fast build up over the holidays, we advise putting them to one side and taking them to a local supermarket’s collection point.

Consider investing in some rechargeable batteries instead.

Christmas crackers

Christmas crackers are brilliant fun but did know that each year 40 million Christmas crackers are thrown away? That’s a lot of bad jokes and party hats. Sadly, a lot of the waste that comes from Christmas crackers isn’t recyclable. Christmas crackers

It is important to first consider, do we really need crackers this year? If yes, it is likely that the outer cardboard exterior is recyclable if it isn’t covered in glitter or foil coated.  The same should be the case for the small paper jokes and that lovely paper crown someone forces onto your head every year. Unfortunately, the gift within is likely not recyclable. Nor is the bag it came in.

Why not try making your own reusable crackers? Or buy some eco-friendly ones.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope you found the contents useful. From everyone here at Enva we wish you a happy, safe, and sustainable Christmas, and a happy new year.

The Waste Hierarchy. 1)Prevention 2)Reduction 3)Reuse 4)Recycle 5)Responsible disposal


Posted in waste