t Recycling at home this Christmas | Eco Innovation Skip to main content


The World’s First Kerbside Recyclable Water Ice Pack

Patent Pending Innovation

Every year, both in the run up, duration, and period after Christmas, so much excess waste is produced. We all love the shiny paper, the glittery cards, the plastic that goes with a brand new present, the batteries that power new gadgets and toys, but with all of this unfortunately comes a price that the planet ends up paying. Waste. Non-recyclable, non-reusable, possibly “biodegradable” (but still takes many years to break down) waste.

Now, we’re not trying to be the killjoys at the party – we love Christmas as much as anyone (perhaps more so this year; after a very busy year, we’re looking forward to a few days of family fun and relaxation!) however, it is important that, as the festive season approaches, we all pay heed to warnings that we’ve all heard before – if we keep chucking things into landfill instead of being conscious of recycling and reusing, our planet will eventually buckle under the strain. It’s already happening with Climate Change, loss of sea ice, melting glaciers – do we really need to see more of the same and worse happening?

Recycling – what can we do?

Recycling will always be the better alternative to sending items to landfill, but even after years of exposure, campaigning and accessibility, recycling still only has an uptake in this country of 88% (households only). Whilst this is a great number, we can still only keep pushing forward for 100% recycling uptake and when better to start than at Christmas (or, now!)

Wrapping paper/cards

Wrapping paper looks lovely and there are so many options but unfortunately so much of it can’t be recycled. Anything with glitter or foil is a no-no, as well as any type of paper that has sticky tape or sticky tape residue on it. Ribbons and bows are also non-recyclable so all in, unless you’re going to spend time on Christmas morning removing all decorations and traces of sticky tape, most of the paper you excitedly rip off your presents will end up in landfill. Whilst a lot of it may degrade quickly, it still adds to the landfill burden.

Holiday cards also have this issue (and not just for Christmas, any card we send through the year is subject to ending up in landfill). Glitter, foil, decorations, envelopes with sticky tape – they’re all unable to be recycled!

Some simple changes can prevent this from happening: –

  • Consider using Kraft paper to wrap your gifts, and you can always decorate this with ink stamps, pencils, or let the kids loose with felt tips.
  • Instead of using sticky tape, there are some great videos online showing how to fold presents into paper and keep them hidden, without tape or ribbons. An example would be: How To Wrap Gift Without Tape but there are loads out there for inspiration.
  • Look for wrapping paper and/or cards that are just plain paper with no decorations.
  • We’ll cover this later on in terms of reducing waste but instead of sending cards, why not look at email alternatives. This is a much cheaper option too!


Batteries are so bad for the environment if they’re just thrown away in the general waste. Once they end up at their end landfill site, they start to decompose, and as this decay happens, they start to leak. Batteries contain a wide range of toxic chemicals including lithium, nickel, corrosive acids and cadmium – all of which are dangerous to health if they enter our ecosystems.

The answer, other than trying to use less batteries, is to properly recycle them. there are now many battery recycling drop off points in supermarkets, schools and shops. What happens when used batteries are recycled is that they are stripped apart, with various components such as the lead and plastic melted down to form new batteries, and the dangerous chemicals converted into industrial chemicals to be reused in this way.

Plastic film/wrap

Unfortunately, plastic film or wrap is present on so many items we buy and use in our everyday lives. Food is a big culprit, with so many items using this as packaging including fruit, meat, vegetables, bread, frozen items…we could go on. As we all rush to the shops or book up our festive delivery slots, it’s worth sparing a thought to buying products that do not use this plastic film, as it is notoriously hard to actually get it recycled.

The majority of domestic recycling plants (i.e those run by local councils) do not accept plastic wrap. This is down to a few reasons normally – the technology to recycle this material is not present at these plants, cost of investing in such machinery, and also the cost of separating this type of plastic from more easily recycled plastics such as PET.

There are specialist schemes in place to recycle plastic films and wraps, but most do place minimum amounts on how much can be sent in at once, which means you may have to store used plastic wrap for a while until you’ve collected enough.

For more info on this type of specialist recycling scheme and indeed, on recycling other hard to recycle items such as crisp packets, batteries, foils, beauty items etc, see Recycle Now.

Plastic bags

Plastic bags are one of the banes of modern society and even though many shops and supermarkets have pushed now for eco-alternatives, they still hang around like a bad smell. Even the “bags for life” that you can pay extra for are made of non-recyclable plastic so whilst you may get more reuse opportunities from them than the original thin plastic shopper, eventually they’ll need to be disposed of. Some are marked as “biodegradable” but they still take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to break down fully so, if you can, try to avoid plastic bags in all their forms!

There are several ways to reduce and avoid plastic bags, you could:

  • Tick the “no bags” option on your online shop, so the goods come in just crates. This can add a bit of extra time unpacking but is much better for the environment (and your pocket, as most supermarkets now charge for plastic bags on home deliveries as well as instore).
  • Choose to use cloth bags or cardboard boxes if shopping instore
  • Refuse a bag for smaller shops of 1 or 2 items, especially if you are able to put the items straight into the car to go home

Reducing waste

Of course, it is preferable where possible to actually reduce the amount of waste that needs to be recycled in the first place. Easy ways to do this could include:

  • Instead of wrapping gifts, give them unwrapped and ask family members to close their eyes as you present them.
  • If you still want the magic of a hidden present, why not reuse gift bags so the present is not immediately on show. As long as you don’t tape the bag closed, it can be easily reused again and again.
  • Don’t send cards or send email cards instead of physical ones.
  • Consider sustainability when buying for others – look for gifts with less packaging, gifts that can be reused, and/or something like email vouchers, so you aren’t buying anything unwanted that could end up being thrown away.
  • Look at your own “wanted” list – could any of the items be swapped for more sustainable ones? For example, could you ask for candles made from beeswax or coconut wax instead of paraffin wax? Or toiletries that come in cardboard packaging instead of plastic. Clothing sold by retails with clear policies on ethical and sustainable sourcing and manufacturing. Wooden toys for the kids instead of plastic. The list is endless…..