Christmas recycling and waste information

Please note, some of the information on this page may now be out of date.

Before Christmas

Look for zero waste gifts

  • experiences
  • memberships
  • your time
  • upcycle
  • buy second hand
  • homemade
  • buy ethical

Choose alternatives to wrapping paper

It would be even better to avoid wrapping paper and try out these alternatives instead:

  • brown paper – can be recycled with cardboard (just take off any tape or decorative items)
  • packaging – a spare cardboard box or jiffy bag can be decorated
  • fabric - bring colour to your presents. Scarves, tea towels, handkerchiefs, bandanas, or large napkins could be used. Wrap objects in various shapes by learning the traditional Japanese cloth-folding technique, furoshiki
  • old maps or newspaper – create a vintage look but avoid maps with a plastic lining
  • jars, tins, or gift bags - a lovely, reusable way to display gifts
  • baskets – feels homely and rustic
  • children’s artwork

Putting up the decorations

If your Christmas lights are broken and can’t be repaired when you get them out this year make sure you recycle them. Like most unwanted electricals, Christmas lights contain valuable materials like copper which can be recycled and transformed into anything from bicycles to children’s playgrounds - even into new Christmas lights.

Recycle them with other small electricals by placing in a loosely tied bag on the top of your kerbside recycling box or take them to the recycling centre next time you go.

Plan your food

Figures suggest that the equivalent of a whole plateful of food per household will end up going to waste on Christmas Day along with at least another plateful in days immediately after.

In 2020 the amount of food waste collected in North Somerset rose by 14% over the Christmas period.

  • avoid over buying, most shops are only closed on the bank holidays so there’s no need to stockpile food just in case
  • check what you already to avoid doubling up
  • plan ahead by thinking about the space you have to store the foods you’re going to buy, and use up older items first
  • make use of your freezer to help cater for unexpected guests, and for freezing foods if you have a change of plan

Ordering online

We start seeing an increase of cardboard from November as online orders for Black Friday and Cyber Monday drive up deliveries. To help you can:

  • reduce deliveries by ordering items all together
  • reuse cardboard boxes or offer them for reuse
  • flatten unwanted boxes down so they fit in your recycling box. If you have a lot of cardboard put a little extra out each week to ensure crews can collect from everyone

During Christmas

Leftover food

See the Love food hate waste website for recipes to use up leftover food. Simply type in what you have left and see what it suggests. Turkey curry and bubble and squeak are classics.

Recycle your food waste that can’t be eaten

You can use any plastic bag to line your food waste caddy then tie the top and place in your food waste bin for weekly collection.

Keep wrapping paper to reuse or wrapping paper will need to go in your black general waste. We’re not collecting wrapping paper for recycling this year, because it’s difficult to recycle. There are so many varieties, and most are mixed with unrecyclable items such as foil, glitter, ribbon, and tape. If the amount of incorrect material in the recycling is too high, the whole load will be rejected by the paper mill. It will then be disposed of as general waste, resulting in high costs and transport emissions.

Extra recycling

You can use an extra recycling box or use separate loosely tied bags and sort your recycling to keep materials separate.

A small amount of extra card will be collected if it’s flattened and broken down to the size of your recycling box and placed next to your boxes. If you have lots keep some back for the next collection. Please remove any polystyrene packaging and as much sticky tape as possible.

For crew safety, put all glass in the box and make sure it is visible. You can also use your nearest recycling centre.

After Christmas

  • regift unwanted presents
  • store any freezable leftover food in the freezer

Collection dates are not changing this year. As Christmas and Boxing Day fall over the weekend our crews have agreed to work the bank holiday catch-ups. Put out your bins and boxes on your normal collection day and report any missed collections as normal.

Please check opening times on our recycling centres page before you travel as some sites are closed on certain days during the week.

In the 2020 festive period we collected 24% more recycling than an average week. To cope with the larger volumes of recycling over the festive period we use all the different collection vehicles we have. This means a garden waste lorry which has been washed out will collect recycling instead. It will still be separated and recycled.

Real Christmas trees

Repurposing real Christmas Trees

We are working with local organisations again this year to help unwanted Christmas trees become a useful resource. Repurposing the trees locally cuts down on transportation and is a great way to build partnerships, which encourage sustainable solutions within our communities.

Organisations accepting real Christmas trees are:

The Noah’s Ark Zoo and Farm in Wraxall

A proportion of the trees go for animal enrichment, while the rest are chipped down for land regeneration. The Zoo will accept real Christmas trees until 23 January, unless otherwise publicised please check their website before you travel.

 St Peter’s Hospice ‘Just Giving’ Christmas Tree Collection and Recycling service - St Peter's Hospice

This is a collection service to raise money for the charity. Please book a collection for 8, 9, or 10 January. The charity chip the trees themselves and use on their grounds.

Weston Rotary ‘Pines for Pounds’Pines for Pounds – Weston Hospicecare

This is a collection service to raise money for Weston Hospice if you live in the Weston-super-Mare area. Please book a collection for Saturday 8 January from 08.00 until 17.00. There are up to 1000 collection slots available.

Once collected by Weston Rotary the trees are taken to our transfer station where they will be transported to Gloucester for recycling.

Last year’s Christmas tree collections raised more than £26,000 for the charities involved.

Keep any eye on social media for updates, there could be changes made if Covid restrictions are put in place.

You can also recycle your Christmas tree at your nearest recycling centre.