22. Dec, 2017

Composting Christmas waste

It is not to late to prepare to compost as much as possible of your Christmas waste.

Junk mail

Christmas usually results in a mass of festive magazine, advertising sheets and newspaper supplements. Most can be composted but the amount involved means that recycling will often be the best option using the council system available in your district

Cardboard packaging

Cardboard packaging is a good source of “Browns” when torn up or shredded in the compost bin and can be easily stored of use though-out the year. The corrugations in corrugated cardboard form channels containing air which assists aerobic decomposition and will compost relatively quickly if shredded or torn into small pieces.  Cardboard tags can be composted or recycled but any tags which contain foil or glitter cannot be recycled. Polystyrene used for packaging cannot be recycled and must go in your household bin

Wrapping paper

Where possible wrapping paper should be saved for future use. Normal wrapping paper can be composted but it is often laminated with plastic, foil or other non-paper materials which will not compost and are normally sent to landfill.  Sticky tape will not compost but the paper element will, and the remains of the tape can be removed when the compost is harvested.


Paper based crackers and their cardboard tubes can be torn up and composted as can most party paper hats.

Christmas trees

Real trees can be shredded and composted using an electric shredder, available from DIY and good Garden Centres. Some Councils offer their residents the chance to have their trees shred at designated sites and may even give a free bag of wood chip as a reward.

If the Council has a green bin system to collect garden waste the tree can be chopped up and put it into the bin for collection. Trees may also be taken to a Council collection point


Christmas wreaths made from natural materials such as holly. Ivy or fir can be composted (woody parts are best shredded first). Alternatively, the greenery can be put in the garden waste bin. If there is no garden waste collection it can be taken to the recycling plant. Any “glitter” should be removed first.

Hanging decorations and paper chains

Paper chains including those dyed in bright colours can be composted. However, “Glitter” is not recyclable. If put in the “paper” recycling bin it will end up contaminating the finished product and the load will be rejected. Glass baubles are not compostable or recyclable. At present most, plastic baubles are not currently recyclable in the UK

Christmas cards

Plain Christmas cards can be composted or recycled as card. Any glitter covered cards, and those over-printed in foil or a 3D image, cannot be recycled. The card element will compost and if any foil remains it can be removed from the compost when it is harvested. Otherwise glitter and foil cards should be disposed of through your household bin. Glitter in the recycling bin will contaminate the entire lorry load of recyclables. Anything containing glitter should normally be put in your household waste bin. 

Gift tags

Cardboard tags can be recycled, but any tags which are foil or contain glitter should be put in your household waste bin. 

Food waste

Uncooked kitchen waste can be composted as can cooked food waste if a food composter or Bokashi system is used. Otherwise food waste should go in the Council food waste collection bin (where food waste is collected) or in the landfill household waste bin.   It is best to “Love Food and Hate Waste” exercising control when buying food, and portion control when serving it and to cook leftovers rather than thro money into the bin.