At the end of 2021, everyone wants to make the most of the festive season.

A year of change is a good time to get into new routines and there are lots of small steps everyone can take to waste less this Christmas. Just making one or two changes can make a difference.

By reducing, reusing and recycling you can end 2021 and start 2022 doing your bit to protect our environment and help tackle climate change – as well as saving money.

Know your festive collection days

Make sure you know when we will be picking up you rubbish and recycling over the holidays. You can look up all your collection days using the My Collection Day feature on our home page (somersetwaste.gov.uk)


Manage your mess

Real Christmas trees

Compost at home if you can, or turn it into a garden wildlife corner if you have the space.

If you are a subscriber to our garden waste service, leave your tree, decoration-free, next to your garden waste bin for collection – as long as it is no taller than 6ft and its trunk is no wider than 6 inches. Collections restart on Monday 10 January. You can check your first 2022 collection using the My Collection Day menu at somersetwaste.gov.uk

If your tree is taller than 6ft or has a trunk wider that 6 inches, you will need to take to a recycling site as that’s just too big for the crews and vehicles to handle. Not a subscriber? You will need to take your tree, decoration-free, to a recycling site and put it in the garden waste skip. They will not be collected from the kerbside.

Wrapping paper

Foil, plastic or glittery wrapping paper cannot be recycled and has to go into your rubbish.

Any paper wrapping you cannot reuse, remove sticky tape, bows and decorations and put it in your paper recycling box.

We cannot accept any wrapping paper in a black bag because we cannot see what is inside.
If you have a large load take it to one of our 16 recycling sites. Each will have a special drop-off point for wrapping paper (don’t put it in the cardboard skips).

Tubs and tins of sweets and chocolates

There is lots of scope for reuse as storage at home, but if you have to dispose of them, recycle where you can.
Plastic tubs – In Mendip, South Somerset and – from 1 November – you can put plastic tubs in your Bright Blue Bag.

Everywhere else, take them to a recycling centre and put them in the skip that is for plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays.

Metal tins – wherever you live, please take these to a recycling site and put in the metals skip (sorry, we cannot collect from the kerb because the size of these tins causes issues with baling equipment).

Tubes of crisps (mentioning no names, but they rhyme with Christingles)

Are they card, metal or plastic? They are, infuriately, all these at the same time. Because the materials cannot be effectively separated, they cannot be recycled and have to go straight into your rubbish.

Mince pie foil tins

Put these in your weekly recycling collections. In Mendip, put them in your Bright Blue Bag. Everywhere else, in your black recycling box.

Cards and crackers

This year’s cut-up Christmas cards can become next year’s gift tags. If you need to dispose of them, use the appropriate recycling box, but remove glitter and ribbons etc first.

Cards can also be taken to our recycling centres.
The same goes for Christmas crackers. Remove any glittery bits and the rest can go into your recycling box.

Christmas lights

These count as electrical items. If you have a Recycle More collection (Mendip, South Somerset, almost all of Taunton Deane), you can leave them in an untied bag alongside your recycling. Everywhere else, please take them to a recycling site.


From lights and toys, make sure you recycle them once they are dead. In Mendip, South Somerset, almost all of Taunton Deane, with Recycle More, you can put them out in a small, untied bag.

Everywhere else, batteries can be recycled by taking them to one of our recycling centres or collections in supermarkets and some other shops.

Food waste

If you really cannot make use of leftovers, make sure you put them in your food waste bin.

If you have not already got one, please order one (for free) using the Manage My Containers option on the My Waste Services drop down menu at somersetwaste.gov.uk

Gifts – Think outside the box

Avoid unwanted presents but keep the element of surprise by asking for wish lists. Try and invest in gifts of quality that will last and could be reused.

Consider gifts that do not need to come in big cardboard boxes, or any boxes at all. Vouchers for local restaurants, attractions or experiences; digital subscriptions to newspapers, magazines or streaming services; memberships for clubs or trusts – all wasteless gifts that will give loved ones something to look forward to in 2021.

Buy local to invest back in your own community. Local retailers can deliver to your door just as well as the big names. They usually use less packaging and certainly mean fewer ‘gift miles’. Check out the new Shop Somerset website for ideas https://www.shopsomerset.co.uk/

Make it scrunch time for wrapping paper

Steer clear of any glittery, plastic or foil wrapping options and stick with good old paper wrapping (recycled if possible) which can be recycled after use.

If in doubt, give it the scrunch test: scrunch it and it stays scrunched, it is recyclable, just make sure it doesn’t have tape or glitter on it. If it does not stay scrunched, it cannot be recycled and needs to go straight into your rubbish.

Make this the year you reuse wrapping paper or try wrapping gifts in fabric (custom known as Furoshiki in Japan)? It’ll save you money as well as being good for the environment.


Make a meal of planning

Somerset is recycling more of its food waste than ever. That is good news, but it would be even better if we cut out the waste altogether.

Meal planning for the festive period means you only buy what you need and eat all you buy. Check your stocks before you go shopping and eat the contents of your freezer and fridge to make space for your festive food.

Avoid the temptation to buy too much “just in case”. Most shops are open for much of holiday and the ‘just in case’ food is often what gets wasted.

Make the most of your leftovers by being creative in the kitchen and having store cupboard staples like rice and pasta on hand to turn leftovers into substantial meals.

www.outofdate.org.uk and www.lovefoodhatewaste.com have lots of tips on shopping and storage, as well as recipes for leftovers.

Make the most of recycling sites

Our 16 sites across the county will be open their usual winter hours throughout the festive period, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

They may be the best way to get rid of large quantities, especially when public holidays or severe weather disrupt the usual recycling and rubbish collections.

Check the current COVID restrictions, and wear gloves, plus a mask if possible.