Composting Christmas waste
Christmas is one of the peak periods of the year for the generation of compostable waste. This is part of a feature on the compost year to be found at www.carryoncomposting.com
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 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
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.
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.
There is debate over the use of artificial trees. It is said that the tree should be kept for about nine years before it shows an environmental advantage over a real tree. We checked our indoor tree and it is 21 years old!
Christmas wreaths made from natural materials such as holly. Ivy or fir can be composted (woody parts and holly leaves 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
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.
Cardboard tags can be recycled, but any tags which are foil or contain glitter should be put in your household waste bin.
Uncooked kitchen waste can be composted in the normal compost bin. Waste cooked can be is easily composted in a multipurpose bin such as a Hotbin, a dedicated food composter e.g. Juraform rotary composter or for smaller quantities a Bokashi system is used. In most families with children Christmas justifies the purchase of a bin that can deal with cooked food waste.
Otherwise food waste should go in the Council food waste collection bin (where food waste is collected) or as a very last resort 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 throw money into the bin.