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Christmas waste and recycling

Christmas is a time of year when millions of tonnes of household waste is dumped into landfill. A mountain of materials that can be recycled is lost either by being placed in the incorrect bin or through contamination. 

The below information is your ultimate Christmas waste and recycling guide to help minimise waste, increase recycling and answer any queries you might have for the festive period.   


Christmas Recycling Village opening times

The Recycling Village at Middlefields is open for all excess materials gathered over the festive period. This includes cardboard, cans, plastic, glass and more.

Find out more about the Recycling Village and permits.


Recycle your Christmas tree

There are 14 sites available for Christmas tree recycling. 

Contact the Customer Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000 for further information.

South Shields:

Jarrow

Hebburn

Boldon, Cleadon and Whitburn 


Recycling at Christmas

  • Christmas cards - Please recycle Christmas cards in the main part of your blue recycling bin. Any cards with glitter, glue, metallic or 3-D should be put into your grey household bin.
  • Cardboard - squash and place in the main part of your blue recycling bin. We cannot take excess cardboard played next to blue bins if it is wet. The excess moisture can cause problems processing the materials and can affect the quality of other recyclable materials in the load. Large amounts of cardboard can be taken to the Household waste and recycling centres.
  • Plastic carrier bags/black sacks NO plastic carrier bag or black sack of any kind can be recycled. Do not use plastic bags to separate the materials. Plastic carrier bags and black sacks can ONLY be disposed of in the grey household bin.
    Christmas is a busy time for food shoppers. Don't forget to start saving your carrier bags now for re-use or recycle them via in-store supermarket facilities.
  • Wrapping paper - dispose of your wrapping paper in your grey household bin. Wrapping paper cannot be recycled because it is often laminated, dyed, foil or covered in glitter. Some wrapping paper is very thin and contains few good quality fibres for recycling.
    An alternative is that you could save and use the wrapping paper up for next year.
  • Glitter - is NOT recyclable. It is too small and hard to contain. During the treatment process glitter ends up in the finished product and is rejected by the company. If you put glitter in the recycling bin whether it's on a card, wrapping paper or a decoration it ends up contaminating the whole load of recyclables in the blue recycling bin. Glitter placed in the recycling bin scatters all over and if the materials are collected by the crew the entire truckload of recyclables will be rejected. Place anything with glitter into your grey household bin. Last year in South Tyneside a large number of recycling loads were rejected due to glitter.
  • Tags - cardboard tags can be recycled but any tags which are foil or contain glitter cannot be recycled.
  • Metal sweet and biscuit tins - the big sweet tins make great storage containers but if you have too many, they can go in the main part of your blue recycling bin. Please make sure that all wrappers and packaging are removed first. 
  • Food waste - all food waste must be disposed of in your grey household bin. No food of any kind is to go in the blue recycling bin; this includes takeaway boxes. Any materials with food leftovers or grease must be disposed of in your grey household bin.  
  • Toys - small electrical toys can be recycled in the main part of your blue recycling bin. Remove the batteries first. Soft toys cannot be recycled.
  • Junk mail - Christmas often see festive magazine and newspaper supplements dropping through your door. Use the inner caddy in your blue recycling bin or take them to the Recycling Village for recycling.

See a full list of what can be recycled


Christmas decorations 

Most Christmas decorations are not recyclable, below is a guide to help you dispose of your Christmas decorations.

  • Christmas tree lights - should NOT be placed in your blue recycling bin (these will tangle in the recycling machinery), please dispose of at the Recycling Village and permits or in your grey household bin.
  • Wreaths - if you have a wreath containing natural materials like ivy, holly or fir tree clippings, you will be able to compost the greenery once you have removed it from the base, provided there is no glitter. If you don't have a compost bin, please use your grey household bin.
  • Paper chains - if you have made your own paper chains from plain paper and there is no glitter on them, please use the inner caddy in your blue recycling bin. If the paper chains have been bought from a shop, the best option is to home compost your paper decorations rather than recycle them. This is because paper decorations are often dyed in vivid colours and the paper has short fibres too - neither of which is ideal for recycling. If you don't have a compost bin please use your grey household bin.
  • Baubles -
    • Glass baubles are not recyclable - if any of your glass baubles break, please wrap carefully and dispose of in your grey household bin. 
    • Plastic baubles are usually made from types of plastic not widely collected yet in the UK and are likely to be covered with glitter which would contaminate other recycling materials. You could donate to a local charity or dispose of through your grey household bin.  
  • Tinsel - is NOT recyclable. If your tinsel has finally lost its sparkle or shine please dispose of through your grey household bin.    
  • Bows and ribbons - do not recycle bows and ribbons, either reuse these or dispose of in your grey household bin.
  • Santa hats - donate to a local charity or dispose of in your grey household bin.  

Recycling ideas

  • Cut your Christmas cards into tags to reuse over the festive period or save for next year
  • Create bookmarks from cards
  • Want to have a starry night? Use twigs from the garden to make star tree decorations
  • If you fancy something a little shinier make stars from tin foil 

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