Christmas recycling and waste information

Before Christmas

Look for zero waste gifts

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

Choose alternatives to wrapping paper

We are not able to recycle wrapping paper in North Somerset.

Lots of wrapping paper is not just paper. This makes it hard to recycle. Plus, it is often mixed up with unrecyclable foil, glitter, ribbon and tape.

Wrapping paper will need to go in your general waste so why not choose a more eco-friendly alternative 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. 

If you need new decorations, get crafty and make what you can from old materials around the house. It can be fun getting them out every year, especially if the kids helped!

If you do need to buy some, consider avoiding plastic decorations, you still get festive cheer with a more traditional rustic look.

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 2021, the amount of food waste collected over the Christmas period in North Somerset rose by 13%.

This was a 2% increase from the year before, so we really need to think about how we can reduce our Christmas food waste:

  • 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 have 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
  • save your boxes and use them to gift presents - decorate to make them unique

During Christmas

Leftover food

We love leftovers! Get creative in the kitchen with spontaneous ideas.

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

Recycling food is important becuse we turn that waste into a valuable energy resource. All our food waste recycling is processed to make electricity.

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. Once emptied, give your containers a quick clean to keep them fresh and odour free.

Wrapping paper

Keep wrapping paper to reuse or put it in your black general waste. We’re not collecting wrapping paper for recycling this year because it’s difficult to recycle.

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

If you have lots of extra recycling keep some back for your next collection. You can also use your nearest recycling centre.

Sort your recycling to keep the materials separate. You can either use an extra recycling box, or place into separate loosely tied bags. Leave neatly by your boxes.

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. Please remove any inserts and as much sticky tape as possible.

For crew safety, put all glass in your recycling box and make sure it is visible.

After Christmas

Regift unwanted presents. This is ok to do, it’s not about being ungrateful, but sometimes we don’t need or want a particular item. So why not pass it on, or donate it to charity or a refuge.

You can also store any freezable leftover food in the freezer, or preferably try to use it without having to freeze it.

Check the online waste collection calendar to see your revised collection dates over the festive period.

Put out your bins and boxes by 6.30am on your normal collection day and report any missed collections as normal.

If you're planning to visit one of our recycling centres, please check opening times before you travel. Some sites are closed on certain days during the week.

To cope with the larger volumes of recycling over the festive period, we sometimes use different collection vehicles. Although the vehicle may have changed, the recycling will still be separated and processed as normal.

Real Christmas trees

Repurposing real Christmas trees

For the third year running we are working with local organisations 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.

Closer to the time we will publicise the Christmas tree drop-off and collection dates.

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. Keep an eye out for more information on our recycling and waste social media pages, or the zoo website.

 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. The charity chip the trees themselves and use on their grounds. Dates for booking a collection will be publicised closer to the time.

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. Dates for booking a collection will be publicised closer to the time.

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.

You can also recycle your Christmas tree at your nearest recycling centre. If you are signed up to the garden waste service you can place you real Christmas tree out by your garden waste bin/bags on the first garden waste collection scheduled after Christmas.