Christmas waste hangover tackled

Christmas may be the season of goodwill but the gift giving and over indulgence also leads to a huge spike in the amount of rubbish thrown out by householders.

Up and down the country those responsible for waste have been trying to get the message out to the public to recycle more and, in many places, extra services have been laid on to ensure that they do.

Last Friday saw the symbolic end of Christmas in London as the giant Trafalgar Square tree, an annual gift from the people of Norway, was fed into the chipper to make mulch which will be used in Parliament Square.

Edie was at the scene to talk to Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron about festive waste and New Year’s resolutions.

“I hope the recycling of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree will encourage Londoners to become greener citizens and recycle more, especially the extra rubbish from the Christmas and holiday season,” she said.

“In the aftermath of Christmas we’re surrounded by rubbish – Londoners put up over one million Christmas trees, 120 million Christmas cards, 1.5 million jars of pickles, 800,000 cranberry sauce jars.

“In 2007 Londoners have got to recycle even more because we’re all aware how urgent it is to tackle climate change – if you don’t recycle then that rubbish is going to have to go to landfill or incineration and both are big producers of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Elsewhere in the country dozens of authorities have put on extra collections, hired in chippers and rolled out temporary schemes to make sure the seasonal waste does not lead to a waste management head ache.

Cambridge City Council, for example, is recycling trees free until January 20 and will use the chippings to mulch its parks.

West Oxfordshire District Council has sent a clear sack to every household in the district to help recycle additional festive waste. Last year this increased recycling by 26%.

That meant an extra 203 tonnes, the equivalent of 17 waste collection trucks full of rubbish, was recycled rather than sent to landfill.

Manchester City Council is even collecting trees for recycling for those who cannot get to one of the temporary collection points at a participating park, with residents asked to ring the council to arrange a day to leave their tree on the doorstep.

“Celebrations around the country will generate a staggering three million tonnes of rubbish this Christmas,” said Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local government Association’s environment board.

“Local authorities don’t want to stop people making merry and partying but do want to encourage everyone to recycle their festive waste rather than simply throwing it in the bin.

“Councils are on the frontline in the fight against climate change and recycling is a vital part of the battle against it. Many authorities have set up special schemes for recycling Christmas trees and cards.

“This is in addition to the kerbside collections and all-year-round facilities authorities provide where glass bottles, drinks cans, paper and card can be recycled.”

On a national level, Christmas recycling received celebrity endorsement this year from comedy actress Jane Horrocks, who promoted a card recycling campaign spearheaded by Recycle Now and the Woodland Trust.

The campaign is backed by WHSmith, Tesco and TK Maxx. All three companies have put out extra card collection bins at many of their stores which will remain in place until the end of the month.

Sam Bond

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