17. Dec, 2018

Composting Christmas waste

Having already published a blog on Christmas Food Waste  I am now updating the information on composting other Christmas waste. 

Composting Other Christmas Waste


Natural corks can be composted but will take a time to break down and might need returning to the bin for a second session when the compost is harvested. 

Christmas cards

If the card looks as if it contains plastic or laminated materials do a scrunch test. If it does not stay scrunched the card cannot be composted or recycled.  Some cards will have glitter added (see below) this should be sent to landfill but the backs of paper Christmas cards  without a coating or glitter  can be composted or added to the L.A. bag or box recycling collection.More information at Carryoncomposting Christmas waste.

Christmas trees

Christmas trees can be composted but it is advisable to shred them first to increase the surface area exposed to the composting microbes and speed decomposition. If a shredder is not available   branches can be cut into small “thumb” size pieces but these will be slow to compost and it is easier donate the tree to the Local Authority  to be shredded into chippings which are then used locally in parks.More information on the main website

Pine needles can be composted or turned to leafmold but they will be slow to decompose and any significant quantities are bested treated separately form deciduous leaves.

Unfortunately, artificial trees, most of which are made from the dreaded PVC plastic, face only one possible destination when their final day arrives: The landfill. If you have an artificial tree, the best thing to do is use it as many seasons as possible, or donate it to someone else who will.

  Gift tags etc

Tags made from card can be cut up and composted having first removed any plastic ties. Plastic or foil tags will not compost.


Electronic items may not immediately come to mind as being Christmas waste but so many people get new electronic items at Christmas gifts large numbers of  electrical items  are disposed of immediately after the festive season. Use any upcycling services in your area if not most recycling centres will have a separate are for working electrical items

 Ribbons and decorations

Ribbons, bows may be made of natural fibres in which case they can be composted but many will contain  foil or plastic and  cannot be composted or recycled.


Cardboard, particularly corrugated boxes, are an excellent source of carbon rich “browns” they should be torn or cut into smallish pieces and scrunched up when added to the bin.

  Paper napkins and party hats from the crackers can be composted

 Wrapping paper and boxes

 Paper and card are a good source of “browns” and can help create air pockets to the compost bin. Plastic tape should be removed from the wrapping or envelopes as the tape does not breakdown during composting.  Some paper and cards willcontain plastic or laminated materials these cannot be composted or recycled. Scrunch the item up in your hand. If it stays 'scrunched' it can be composted or recycled.


Christmas wreaths made from plant  materials can be composted after the any  glue, plastic and  wiring are removed.  If leaves have been coated with glitter discard them to landfill . Most council will accept “clean” Christmas wreaths as garden waste..

 Wood ash from open fires or wood burners can be composted.

 Cocktail sticks although small can be added to the bin. To avoid pets trying to eat them and injuring themselves put the sticks into a container and empty it directly into the kitchen caddy

Holly, ivy and mistletoe can be composted,


Large numbers of Christmas items are decorated with glitter, including from cards, wrapping paper and decorations. Most of the glitter contains microplastic such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)  do not compost or recycle items containing glitter put into a sealed container such as a plastic bag that is being binned anyway the landfill collection system  and do not buy any next year.

The good news is that there is now Biodegradable glitter that is made from a certified compostable film that adheres to the European (EN13432) and the American (ASTM D6400) standards.
EDetaiks  at www. Carryoncomposting Christmas waste

 Paper Chains

If you have made paper chains they ,can be composted.    Paper chains with prints or colours are not ideal for recycling and are probably best off in the compost bin.

Baubles Aren’t Usually Recyclable

Glass baubles are not suitable for the blue bin and will need to be wrapped up and placed in a normal black bin if they break. Plastic baubles, unless labelled recyclable, will not be suitable for the blue bin so you may have to throw broken ones away in the normal black bin.