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Christmas: ‘A shockingly wasteful time of year’

Christmas is a wonderful yet shockingly wasteful time of year. Without giving it much thought, most households in West Leeds and beyond generate a substantially larger amount of waste during the festive period, writes Lucy Ravenhall of Forge Recycling.

Many of us are also confused about what to do with certain Christmas-specific waste items, such as our Christmas trees, as there is a lack of information available, which can lead to recyclables ending up in landfill. Here are the main Christmas waste types, and how to reduce them or dispose of them in an environmentally-friendly way:

Food waste

It can be tempting to splurge on food at Christmas, but if you just buy what you need to feed your family, it won’t end in food being thrown away when the festivities are over.

Christmas trees

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Artificial trees cannot be recycled, so if you do already own one, make the most of it, and reuse it for years. A better option is a real Christmas tree, which can be collected and recycled by Leeds City Council after Christmas. Or, if you buy a living tree with roots, it can be planted out in your garden when the festivities are over.


Batteries can’t be disposed of in our household bins in Leeds, meaning more effort is required to recycle them. However, it’s important that you do, and they are widely recycled at recycling points, in shops that sell more than 32kg of batteries a year (this is a legal requirement), in supermarkets, in libraries, and in one-stop centres

Gifts & gift wrap

Don’t be tempted to throw away any unwanted gifts; take them to a local charity shop. Save them from landfill, and help raise money for a good cause at the same time. If you use paper gift wrap, opt for the plain type (no foil or lamination) so it can be recycled after use. Gift bags are a better option, as they can be reused each year. Or you could even try other recycled gift wrap methods, such as fabric scraps or newspaper.

If you are planning on hosting a particularly large family Christmas get-together, it might be worth hiring a skip. That way, you know your waste is being sorted and recycled, and you have more time to spend with your loved ones – having fun and enjoying the festivities. Another game of charades? Oh, go on then!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year from all of the team at Forge Waste & Recycling in Armley.


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