The Ultimate Guide to Recycling

According to the old song, Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year”, but it’s also the most wasteful time of the year. According to recent figures, the average family in the UK spends almost £700 on Christmas gifts and many of these gifts are made of, or contain plastic or synthetic material. In addition, they will be wrapped in 227,000 miles worth of gift wrap, most of which is hard to recycle.

On top of this, around 1 billion Christmas cards are bought in the UK, many of these have plastic coating or glitter on them which makes them hard to recycle too. Add to this, Christmas decorations, Christmas crackers, childrens toys, token plastic gifts which will mainly be thrown away and food waste and you can see how it all mounts up.

With the amount of waste produced in the `UK increasing around 30% over the Christmas season, now is a good time to take stock of how we deal with our household waste.

As a general guide, if you scrunch up a sheet of wrapping paper and it stays scrunched, it can be recycled. With regard to greetings cards; if they don’t have glitter, plastic decorations or foil, they should go in the recycling bin, along with the envelope. Alternatively; send ecards instead! 

If you want to go green this Christmas and want to be sure that everything you buy is recyclable, why not consider some of these Christmas items?

The current system of recycling labelling is at best confusing and at worst non existent. On top of this, not all local authorities accept the same materials for recycling.

For example, the “man putting a piece of rubbish in a bin” symbol, doesn’t mean that the material is recyclable, it just means “dispose of responsibly”.  Conversely, a man putting a bottle in a bin means “recyclable glass”.

The ultimate way of reducing waste is to buy things that come in biodegradable packaging or with no packaging at all (loose vegetables etc). The next best thing is to buy products that come in recycled packaging and where possible avoid single use packaging like the plague! Refusing these products is the best way of reducing them.


Recycling Symbols Unravelled

At the bottom of this page is a widget that you can use to find what can be recycled and where in your area. But first, lets decipher what all those mysterious symbols actually mean:


So the numbers tell you what kind of plastic the item is made of.  But it’s still not clear what can be recycled and what can’t. So, here are some general guidelines:



You might also see these symbols on certain plastics and wonder what on earth they mean. So here are some explanations:



Now you have an idea of what goes in the recycling bin and what goes in the trash. You can now use the widget below to enter some details and see what you can recycle in your area.  Happy recycling”

Recycling Widget

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