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Reduce your waste at Christmas and Recycle

Below are our top Christmas recycling tips to help you reduce your impact on the environment as well as your waste. Find out what to do with old batteries, Christmas trees and wrapping paper.

Over the festive period, 30% more glass bottles and jars, food and drinks cans, paper and cardboard will be thrown away.

Christmas shopping

  • Take re-usable shopping bags or carrier bags with you.
  • Buy gifts made from recycled materials and with minimal packaging.
  • Buy wrapping paper and cards which can be recycled. Plain cards without glitter, glue or decorations can be recycled. For wrapping paper, remember the scrunch test! If it scrunches, it can be recycled. Remove sticky tape and decorations before recycling. Foil wrapping paper cannot be recycled.
  • If you're buying electrical goods, check if the shop has a 'take back' service to recycle any old items which you might be replacing.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries for electrical goods and toys.
  • Get rid of packaging and wrapping paper altogether
    • Go for an alternative gift - eg plant a tree, adopt an animal.
    • Go for a gift experience - eg theatre tickets, days out, wine tasting.
    • Send an e-Christmas card.
    • Use a re-usable gift bag.

Christmas trees

Festive food

After the party's over - recycling

Make the most of your fortnightly recycling collection to recycle your wrapping paper, cards, drinks bottles, cans and cardboard packaging.

Wrapping paper

Plain wrapping paper (not foil) can be recycled, but if it has glitter or it is plastic or foil based it cannot be recycled and should be placed in your rubbish bin. Remove bows, tags, ribbon and sticky tape before recycling plain wrapping paper. Remember the scrunch test! If it scrunches, it can be recycled. If it doesn't, it can't.

Extra cardboard

Recycle flattened cardboard in your recycling bin or at household waste recycling centres. Place extra cardboard by your bin and we will take it away as long as it is dry. If the cardboard is wet, we cannot recycle it.

Extra recycling over Christmas

If you have extra recycling, place it in a clear plastic bag (not a carrier bag or bin bag) next to your recycling bin and we will take it away.


Please do not put old batteries in household bins as they can be a fire risk. Many supermarkets collect old batteries, or you can take them to your Household Waste Recycling Centres.

Christmas tree recycling

Recycle your real tree at one of our Household Waste Recycling Centres. It will be turned into compost.

Christmas card recycling

  • Use your kerbside blue-lidded recycling bin - only plain cards without stickers, glitter and decorations.
  • Make use of supermarket Christmas card recycling facilities.
  • Cut them up to make next year's festive gift tags.

Unwanted presents

Sell or donate unwanted Christmas presents rather than throwing them away.

Unwanted furniture and electrical goods

Look into reusing furniture and household items or take them to one of our household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). Many stores operate a take back scheme and you can hand over your old electrical items when you get new ones.

Contact us
Waste Management
03000 26 1000
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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