From trees to tinsel: what you can and can't recycle in Wales this Christmas

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More than 1,000 tonnes of food waste and hundreds of real Christmas trees will be collected by councils across the country over the festive period alone this year.

Wales is a world leader when it comes to recycling - we're currently the first best for recycling in the UK and the third best in the world.

This Christmas, Wales Recycles’ Be Mighty, Recycle campaign is highlighting the simple ways we can further boost our efforts by recycling key festive items, such as Christmas dinner food waste, mince pie cases and cardboard packaging, which can make a real difference to helping the environment and tackling climate change.

So what can and can't you recycle in Wales this Christmas?

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Christmas trees

Real Christmas trees are completely recyclable and many councils will be offering Christmas tree collections on particular dates after the festive period. Real trees can be shredded and used for things such as chippings for parks and woodlands.

Artificial Christmas trees are not recyclable as they are made from a combination of different materials such as plastics


Christmas wreaths can be recycled but only if they are made from natural materials such as ivy, holly and fir tree.

The decorative parts of the wreath such as ribbon, baubles and plastic berries or decorations will not be able to be recycled. Wales Recycles suggests keeping them and reusing them on next year's wreath instead.

Christmas lights

Electrical items such as Christmas lights can be recycled.

Check to see if your local council offers a recycling collection for small electricals, or if not, take them to your local recycling centre. 


Tinsel is not recyclable, so if you do need to get rid of yours, it will need to go in the ordinary rubbish bin.


Both glass baubles and plastic baubles are not able to be recycled so they can either be given to someone else to use, donated to a local charity shop or, if they are broken, disposed of in the rubbish bin.

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Foil can sometimes cause a bit of confusion for people when it comes to recycling - but it can be recycled.

Angela Spiteri from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Plan) said: "Foil is a really important item because metal can be recycled again and again without losing quality so don't forget to recycle your foil mince pie trays and any foil that you use in your cooking - just remember to give it a rinse before you put it in the recycling and scrunch it into a ball."


The Welsh Government says we consume more cardboard over Christmas than any other time of year.

But remember to remove any packaging tape and flatten boxes to save space in your recycling container.

Wrapping paper

Wales Recycles says some councils across the country will accept plain wrapping paper that does not have glitter, sticky tape or other embellishments on.

However, not all wrapping paper is recyclable as some are made from plastic.

Check with your local council to see if it is accepting wrapping paper in the recycling.

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Christmas cards

Similarly, Christmas cards can be recycled, as long as any glitter, ribbons or embellishments is removed before placing in the recycling.

Or, if you'd prefer to keep your cards, you could use them for some arts and crafts projects, such as making new Christmas cards next year, or even using them to make your own gift tags.

Food waste

Over Christmas, more than 1,000 tonnes of food waste will be collected by our councils.

In Wales, most local authorities send their food waste to a special processing facility where it is turned into green energy.

One caddy full of food waste can produce enough electricity to power a TV for 2 hours or a fridge for 18 hours.

Celebrity chef Matt Pritchard said: "There's so much food waste - a quarter of our rubbish is made out of food waste so if everybody in their houses starts saving their food waste, their potato peelings, their fruit and veg peelings, apple cores, peel, tea bags, coffee grounds, if we all put it into our brown bins then we can generate so much green electricity."

Chocolate and sweet tubs

More of us tend to buy large plastic tubs of chocolate and sweets over Christmas.

Whilst the sweet wrappers themselves aren't recyclable, the plastic tubs are and can be recycled into other plastic materials.

The Welsh Government says it takes 75% less energy to make a bottle from recycled plastic than using raw materials.