Christmas Compost: Recycle Your Festive Waste

According to government statistics*, the UK are pretty bad when it comes to producing an excessive amount of waste at Christmas. In the UK we:

  • Throw away enough wrapping paper to stretch to the moon (just in the UK)

  • Use enough tin foil and cards to cover all of Suffolk

With that in mind, it is important to try and remember to recycle as much as possible during this season of excessive waste. Don’t leave it until your New Year’s resolutions to be more eco-friendly.

You can make the biggest different with your approach to Christmas, buying biodegradable, eco-friendly products and trying not to be wasteful with what you do buy.

There’s plenty you will be able to recycle, and also lots you can compost as well.So, here is our latest article, Christmas Compost: Recycle Your Festive Waste!


If cards are listed as biodegradable, you can compost them, otherwise they must go in the normal rubbish. Often the chemicals used to cover them makes them unable to be recycled, although check on the back as they might be suitable, in which case they can at least go in the blue bin.

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper, just like cards, can only be put into compost if it is listed as biodegradable. If it isn’t, it probably needs to go into the normal rubbish, or again, just like the cards, if it is labelled as recyclable then you can pop it in the blue bin

Paper Chains

Only plain paper can be composted, otherwise the chains will need to go in the normal rubbish – especially if they have lots of print or glitter on them.

Christmas Wreaths

As long as the plastic parts and foam base are removed, the rest can go in compost unless the spray has been excessively covered in glitter or the plant shows signs of disease.

Organic matter

Potato peelings, vegetable peelings and other organic matter are perfect compost fodder.

Gift Catalogues, Christmas Fayre Leaflets, Party Invites

Our bags can get full of Christmas paperwork, but luckily some of it can be reused in the compost. As long as the paper is thin, gloss-free and free from decorations or glitter you can shred it and put it in the compost.

Bones/ Brine

Obviously any gravy leftover is going in ‘leftovers sandwiches’ – it’s simply against the laws of Christmas to do otherwise! However, you might have some juices or brine leftover, which is safe to compost as long as you have picked the meat out.

Scraped or boiled bones are OK for compost though, just remember composting them may attract scavengers and create a stinky compost bin.

Christmas Food You Don’t Want

If you get any Christmas food you don’t want, given as a gift or bought by accident, please give it to a food bank or friends or family – don’t chuck it away unless you really have to, it’s such a waste when people are going hungry during the season of excess.

If you have got to chuck the item, perhaps it is tarnished or out of date, then you might be able to compost it. Hard sweets, crackers, chocolate, jam, jellies, yogurt, mints and cookies will all degrade in the compost heap.


There are plenty of cakes flying around at Christmas, so it’s no surprise they don’t all get eaten. First and foremost, remember you can freeze cake cut into portion sizes so it doesn’t go to waste.

If your freezer is full or the cake has gone stale, you might be able to compost it. Cookies, brownies and Christmas cake tends to compost well, as long as you don’t overdo it as excessive sweet foods are very attractive to pests.


If you haven’t managed to crack all your nuts, you could be forgiven for thinking they are compostable but not all of them are. Walnuts can make your compost toxic so check the particular type of nut before composting to check its not going to make your entire compost heap go bad.

Christmas Tree

Your local authority will provide information on what to do with your old Christmas tree if you don’t know what to do with it. Alternatively you could chop it up and place it in your hedge or tree for birds to use as nesting material.

Alternatively, chop it up and compost it if it hasn’t been treated and is free of glitter and tinsel!For details of what you can and can’t recycle over Christmas, make sure you check your local authority website who will have lots of information on where to dispose of different types of Christmas waste.

* Government Statistics

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