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Reduce your waste at Christmas

Below are our top Christmas recycling tips to help you reduce your impact on the environment as well as your waste. Find out what to do with old batteries, Christmas trees and wrapping paper.

Over the festive period, 30% more glass bottles and jars, food and drinks cans, paper and cardboard will be thrown away.

Christmas shopping

  • Take re-usable shopping bags or carrier bags with you.
  • Buy gifts made from recycled materials and with minimal packaging.
  • Buy wrapping paper and cards which can be recycled.
  • If you're buying electrical goods, check if the shop has a 'take back' service to recycle any old items which you might be replacing.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries for electrical goods and toys.
  • Get rid of packaging and wrapping paper altogether
    • Go for an alternative gift - eg plant a tree, adopt an animal.
    • Go for a gift experience - eg theatre tickets, days out, wine tasting.
    • Send an e-Christmas card.

Christmas trees

  • Buy an artificial tree.
  • If you purchase a real tree, source it from a sustainable grower and make sure it has Forest Stewardship Council accreditation.

Festive food

  • Plan your Christmas meals ahead. 
  • Write a shopping list and sort out your freezer before going for your food shop.
  • Try Composting your fruit and veg peelings.
  • Make use of your leftovers, using websites such as BBC's GoodFood leftover recipes for ideas.

After the party's over - recycling

Make the most of your fortnightly recycling collection to recycle your wrapping paper, cards, drinks bottles, cans and cardboard packaging.

Wrapping paper

Wrapping paper can be recycled but if it has glitter or tape on it, or it is plastic based it cannot be recycled and should be placed with your normal waste.

Extra cardboard

Fold and place extra cardboard by your recyling bin and we will take it away as long as it is dry. If the cardboard is wet, we cannot recycle it.

Extra recycling over Christmas

If you have extra recycling, place it in a clear plastic bag (not a carrier bag or bin bag) next to your recycling bin and we will take it away.


Please do not put old batteries the bin. Many supermarkets collect old batteries, or you can take them to your Household Waste Recycling Centres.

Christmas tree recycling

Recycle your real tree at one of our Household Waste Recycling Centres. It will be turned into compost.

Christmas card recycling

  • Use your kerbside recycling bin - only plain cards without stickers, glitter and bows.
  • Make use of supermarket Christmas card recycling facilities.
  • Cut them up to make next year's festive gift tags.

Unwanted presents

Sell or donate unwanted Christmas presents rather than throwing them away.

Unwanted furniture and electrical goods

Look into reusing furniture and household items or take them to one of our household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). Many stores operate a take back scheme and you can hand over your old electrical items when you get new ones.

Contact us
Waste Management
03000 26 1000
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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