What Waste Is Generated at Christmas?

PUBLISHED: 04/12/2023

Christmas is a time for merry gift-giving and overindulging with one too many Baileys and mince pies. Amidst the mountains of food and Christmas wrapping paper, there is a growing increase in waste in landfills.

During the holiday season, we generate more than 30% more waste, equivalent to three million tonnes of rubbish. This is not just down to Christmas, either. Black Friday waste generates concerning carbon emissions as consumers throw away items they impulsively buy.

In this blog, we outline some concerning Christmas waste statistics and tips for households to reduce their rubbish this season.


Christmas Waste Statistics

From food waste to unsustainable wrapping paper, let’s dive into how ‘wasteful’ Christmas truly is.

  1. People throw over 1 billion Christmas cards yearly, equivalent to 33 million trees, to cover the paper needed for card.
  2. 500 tonnes of Christmas lights are chucked yearly.
  3. £4 billion is spent on unwanted gifts, which is over 60 million unwanted gifts inevitably going to landfill.
  4. 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be disposed and not recycled.
  5. Four million Christmas dinners are thrown away yearly, equivalent to 263,000 turkeys, 7.5 million mince pies, 740,000 Christmas puddings and 11.3 million roast potatoes!
  6. 125,00 tonnes of plastic food wrapping is discarded.
  7. 13,350 tonnes of glass is binned over the festive period.
  8. UK households throw away 3 ½ black bags full of Christmas packaging.
  9. Pigs in blankets are responsible for 150 tonnes of polystyrene packaging at Christmas (you can’t recycle this material), and 7.1 million of these ‘piggies’ are chucked.
  10. In total, 1.6 million tonnes of food go to waste a year.

How Can You Reduce Waste at Christmas?

The waste we generate over the holidays is a massive cause for concern. As much of this waste is not recycled, it goes to the landfill, burning carbon dioxide and increasing global warming. So, how can you manage this?

  1. Invest in a reusable advent calendar over a single-use version. This will reduce plastic and paper waste and let you be creative each year.
  2. Buy eco-friendly Christmas cards which can be recycled. Keep an eye out for FSC-certified paper, which indicates the material came from a sustainable source.
  3. Avoid cards decorated with glitter or foil, as you can’t recycle them.
  4. Switch to LED lights for your Christmas tree. LED lights are energy efficient and will last up to 200,000 hours, saving you from repurchasing them the following year.
  5. Ditch single-use decorations and make homemade ones, or reuse what you already have!
  6. Buy preloved items as gifts from charity shops or online stores such as eBay, Vinted or Facebook marketplace.
  7. Use old newspapers to wrap gifts or use recyclable wrapping paper when needed.

Christmas Bin Collection Dates 2023

This Christmas, try to reuse, recycle and reduce your waste as much as possible. If you have rubbish left over, you’ll need to wait till January as the council won’t collect domestic waste until then. Most areas will have bin collections before the 24th of December, but much of the waste comes after this date!

You may have too much for your outdoor bin as your rubbish piles up. Save this for The Waste Team, and we’ll be available to pick up and recycle your Christmas waste in no time.

Contact The Waste Team for Christmas Waste Removal

The Waste Team are closed from the 22nd of December and will reopen on the 2nd of January.  Fill out our contact form for a FREE quote on how we can safely and sustainably dispose of your holiday waste.

Call us for a FREE, no obligation quote on: 0113 2568 853