Published 18th of December 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas leads to a lot more waste than your average day off work.

While we specialise in document security, we also know a thing or two about minimising how much waste gets sent to landfill. The more we can all recycle at Christmas, the better it will be for the environment.

For many people, just working out what can and can’t be recycled is a big barrier to actually doing it. We’ve put together this little Christmas Q & A to help take away the ambiguity around common Christmas waste products so that we can all treat the planet a little better this December.

Can I recycle wrapping paper?

A lot of wrapping paper can be recycled as long as bows and ribbons are removed. Removing tape is helpful, but isn’t strictly necessary. The only paper that you can’t recycle is foil or glittery paper. A simple test is to crumple the paper up. If it stays crumpled, recycle it. If it unfolds, put it in the bin.

You can make a difference in the weeks leading up to Christmas by choosing to buy paper that can be recycled. Recyclable paper is available at the lower and higher ends of the price spectrum and comes in all sorts of varieties. If you’re concerned about reducing your Christmas waste, save yourself the pain of sorting by making sure all the paper you use can go in the recycling bin.

Can I recycle Christmas cards?

Yes, the vast majority of Christmas cards can be recycled. The only cards that you can’t recycle are cards covered with foil or glitter. These will be easy to spot, so simply remove them from the pile and throw the rest in the recycling bin.

Again, it’s easy to control the environmental impact that your cards will have. As well as choosing plain cardboard cards, it’s also easy to buy cards made from sustainable resources or that help support different charities. There are many different ways for your money to go further at Christmas.

What packaging can be recycled?

Whether you have kids that’ll be unboxing piles of toys on Christmas day or you’ve eaten all that festive chocolate a little too quickly, the amount of packaging you have lying around come Boxing Day adds up fast. Not all of it can be recycled, but recycling what you can will make a big difference.

As a general rule, you’ll need to check what your local authority will and won’t allow to be recycled. With that caveat in mind, we’ve made a handy table to give you some further guidelines.

Widely recycled

Not widely recycled

‘Hard’ plastics (recycling codes 1, 2 and often 5)

‘Soft’ plastics (recycling codes 3 and 4) - includes shrink wrap and other thin films.



Paper products (including tissue paper)

Ribbons, bows and strings

Metal sweet and biscuit tins

Can I recycle Christmas crackers?

Christmas crackers can be recycled along with any other cardboard products as long as they’re not foil-coated or glittery. Otherwise, they’re normal cardboard items that can be taken from your blue bin just like Christmas cards and non-foiled wrapping paper.

Can I recycle advent calendars?

The majority of normal advent calendars can be recycled as long as they don’t have any items left inside. Standard calendars consist of cardboard and, often, an inner plastic tray. All of this is widely collected and recycled throughout the UK. If your calendar is made of different materials, you’ll have to check before you recycle.

Can I recycle aerosol cans?

So you got one too many cans of deodorant in toiletry bundles from Grandma or those slightly awkward work Secret Santas...can they be recycled?

In the UK, aerosol cans tend to be made from either steel or aluminium, which are both recyclable materials. That means all aerosol cans can be recycled as long as they’re completely empty. Which means if you have a brand new one you don’t want, you’ll have to spray it all out before you throw it away.

In fact, most toiletry packaging can be recycled, including shampoo and shower gel bottles.

How do I dispose of old batteries?

The dreaded ‘batteries not included’ phrase will pop up again and again over Christmas, especially if you have children! While you may be putting lots of new batteries in different products, heavy use by an enthusiastic toddler or the discovery of duds can lead to a quick build-up of batteries that need to be thrown out.

You’ll have to take the majority of batteries to a collection point at a local supermarket or tip as they’re treated as ‘hazardous waste’ in the UK. If you end up with a build up over Christmas, set aside a pot to store them in until you have time to take for recycling.

If you’re looking for information about our opening times and operations over the Christmas period, you can find them here.