How to make the Christmas period less wasteful

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Rubbish collection in Tetbury Rubbish collection in Tetbury

AMIDST all the festive cheer, mince pies and colourfully wrapped presents this season, recycling is not always at the forefront of people’s minds.

But an estimated 8million Christmas trees will be thrown away this year, along with 4,500 tons of foil and enough wrapping paper to gift-wrap an island sent to landfill.

This year residents are being urged to think green and cut down on waste.

We found out what happens to all those greetings cards, cans, bottles and kitchen scraps when they are put out for recycling.

FOOD

A staggering 10 million turkeys are expected to be bought in the UK this Christmas with the average family spending £175 on Christmas food and drink.

Tonnes of potato peelings and uneaten Brussels sprouts will head straight for the bin.

Yet food waste, if not recycled, rots in landfill and produces methane, a gas which contributes to climate change, and leachate, a liquid that harms the natural environment.

Compostable food, when it is recycled in the Cotswolds, is taken to a special treatment plant where it is cooked several times at high temperatures for over a month to make sure any harmful substances are killed off. It then becomes a soil conditioner which can be bought from local Household Recycling Centres.

PAPER

DEFRA estimates that enough wrapping paper is simply chucked in the bin each Christmas to wrap the entire 83 square miles of Guernsey. Put it in the black recycling bins instead and it will end up at Palm Paper in Norfolk where it is first pulped to separate the various fibres before paper clips, staples and sticky tape are removed. It is then cleaned several times, dried and flattened before being wound into huge rolls weighing up to 30 tonnes.

CANS

YOUR empty beer can could be part of the next new car you buy, if you remember to recycle it. Steel and aluminium cans are separated at a Cotswolds recycling depot. The aluminium cans are sent to Birmingham where they are shredded, melted down and poured into massive ingot casts which can be turned back into around 1.5million new cans.

Steel cans are sent to Newport where they are melted down and mixed with molten iron. The liquid metal is moulded and rolled into coils and used to make products from bridges and cars to smaller but equally useful paperclips.

CARD

WHO doesn’t end up tripping over the discarded boxes from eagerly opened presents on Christmas Day? Simply flatten them and put them out with the rubbish in the hope the binmen won’t notice?

Clearly not. Claire Blizzard is waste supervisor at Ubico, Cotswold District Council’s waste contractor. She says people are already getting better at recycling cardboard.

“We are pleased that residents support us with their recycling efforts particularly over the festive season,” she said.

She said they were already geared up and ready for the extra influx of recycling coming their way in the next few weeks.

To see how your recycling and waste collection will be disrupted by the Christmas holidays, click here

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