Authorities issue traditional Christmas recycling plea

In what is becoming as much a part of the Christmas rituals as mince pies or swapping cards Government and local authorities have launched the official plea to dispose of all that additional festive waste responsibly.

Defra has focused on food waste this year, pointing to the 230,000 tonnes of festive victuals binned in the UK every Christmas.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said more councils should offer to recycle residents’ food waste, with only a third of councils currently doing so.

“How can it make sense to feed our landfill sites with our Christmas leftovers every year when we could be recycling them and turning them into something useful? Our latest research is very encouraging as it shows that separate food waste collections are definitely working in the areas that are using them, and – more importantly – people are happy with them,” said Mr Benn.

“We would like to see all local authorities collecting food waste as soon as possible and by 2020 at the latest.”

Meanwhile, the local authorities that have to collect the rubbish took a broader view, pointing not just to the food but to the extras like plastic packaging (125,000 tonnes), cards (20,000 tonnes) and trees (12,000 tonnes).

Processing the festive waste will leave the tax payer with a bill of some £78 million, says the Local Government Authority, urging people to freeze their Christmas leftovers, compost their fruit and vegetable peelings and make sure cans, bottles and paper are put in the recycling.

Cllr Gary Porter, Chairman of the LGA Environment Board, said: “Christmas is a time for having fun and relaxing with the family but all the tin foil from the turkeys, plastic toy packaging and wilting Christmas trees can create lots of rubbish. By the end of the holidays, many households could face a mountain of waste, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

“The more people recycle, the less money councils have to pay in landfill tax and the more they can spend on other services, like care for the elderly.

More practical advice is on hand from those looking to turn the waste into something of value, such as the Woodland Trust and its campaign to recycle Christmas cards.

Fronted by Casualty actor Colin Wells, the campaign calls on people to take their cards to special recycling points at a range of highstreet shops including WH Smith, TK Maxx and Marks & Spencer.

The cash raised from selling the card for recycling is used to plant trees around the UK, with the public invited to vote for the regions where they would like to see new woodland established.

Mr Wells said: “Planting a tree is the beginning of a new cycle, and a wonderful, important and very symbolic thing for anyone to do, especially children.

“Imagine how many children will be able to plant tiny oaks, ash and hazel trees that will stay there forever, just from the simple act of us taking time to recycle our cards.”

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie