With the festive season quickly approaching, its easy to forget about the excess packaging of food and gifts that can cause harm to the environment. However, when you start looking at the facts and figures associated with Christmas packaging, it can be both surprising and eye opening. There are many ways in which you can minimise waste and increase recycling during the festivities.
Christmas Food and Drink packaging
For many of us, overindulging in food and drink is our favourite part of the Christmas season. However, the amount and type of packaging that these foods use is often given little thought. It is estimated that 10 million turkeys were consumed last Christmas. This also means over 3,000 tonnes of turkey packaging was be used. Taking this into account, 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping used for food will also be discarded over the festive period.
As many as 500 million canned drinks are sold over the festive period (on top of the baseline sales figures). Recycling just one of these aluminium cans saves enough energy to run a set of Christmas tree lights for two whole hours! Taking into account wine and other bottled drinks, 13,350 tonnes of glass is binned every year during December and January. If all of this was recycled it could save 4,200 tonnes of CO2 (carbon dioxide), the same as taking 1,300 cars off the road every year.
Wrapping paper is designed for single use only, and although some of us try to re-use it, realistically this can only be done once or twice before it is finally binned. Recycling wrapping paper is problematic in a number of ways. Fibres found in cheaper types of paper are not strong enough to recycle. Wrapping paper is often dyed and laminated and can also contain non-paper additives such as gold and silver colouring, glitter and plastics. Additionally to compound all this, it often has sticky tape still attached to it. Landfill or incineration are all too often the only options.
Tips on recycling during the festive season
The amount we choose to either recycle or discard has a direct impact on our environment. So, not only this year but every year, why not consider the environmental impact of the products you consume and try out these recycling tips!
Dispose of any suitable leftovers in a compost bin to create a free and nutritious compost to use on your garden.
Rinse out glass bottles or jars to get rid of any leftovers, then bring the glass to your nearest bottle depot. Metal lids should be removed and recycled separately with drink cans.
Check the bottom of plastic containers for a recycling symbol, to see if you can recycle it.
Recycle old batteries from toys that have been used over the Christmas period.
Plan to reuse or recycle your Christmas gift wrappers for other purposes.
Opt to choose gifts that don’t need wrapping.
Save your Christmas cards each year so you can cut the fronts into gift tags.
Use alternatives to sticky tape e.g. ribbon or twine to wrap gifts