Christmas in the UK is a time of celebration, but it’s important to shed light on the environmental impacts of the holiday season. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the impact surrounding Christmas waste from gift giving.


The Scale of Christmas Waste

To understand the sheer magnitude of Christmas waste in the UK, we need to start by examining some staggering numbers. According to environmental reports, the holiday season sees a significant surge in waste generation. In December, the amount of waste produced can be up to 30% higher than the rest of the year. With the spike being largely attributed to the abundance of packaging materials, decorations, and disposable items associated with Christmas festivities and presents.
Specifically, cardboard waste during this period is used far more than any other time of year. The surge in online shopping, especially during holiday sales, leads to an increased demand for goods, resulting in a substantial rise in cardboard packaging. It’s estimated that during the Christmas season, the UK generates an additional 12% of cardboard waste compared to the annual average. This increase in cardboard usage contributes significantly to the overall holiday waste footprint.


Cardboard at Christmas

Cardboard boxes are an integral part of gift-giving, especially with the rise of online shopping with delivery boxes. During Christmas, the demand for goods skyrockets, leading to an increase in the use of cardboard packaging. In the UK, it’s estimated that around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper and 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are used each Christmas.
The environmental impact of this cardboard consumption is undeniable, considering the energy and resources required for its production and disposal. Proper recycling and sustainable packaging choices can significantly alleviate the environmental strain caused by the surge in cardboard waste during the festive season.


Cardboard Christmas Presents


Wrapping Paper and Plastic Problems

Wrapping paper plays a central role in gift-giving during the festive season. However, its impact on the environment is often overlooked. A substantial portion of wrapping paper cannot be recycled due to the materials used, such as foil or laminations. In the UK, it’s estimated that 108 million rolls of wrapping paper are discarded each Christmas.
During the holiday season, the UK sees approximately 20,000 tonnes of wrapping paper waste, and an additional 23,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste compared to the monthly average. This highlights the urgency for adopting sustainable practices and alternatives to help minimise the environmental impact associated with these festive traditions.


Christmas Wrapping Paper



As we reflect on the impact of Christmas waste, it’s important to consider sustainable alternatives and adopt eco-friendly practices in the future. The festive season should not be synonymous with environmental degradation. Here are some steps to help do your part in reducing waste during Christmas:

Recycled Gift Wrapping: Using recyclable wrapping paper or explore creative alternatives like fabric gift wrap or reusable gift bags.

Gifts with Less Packaging: Choose gifts with minimal packaging or packaging that is easily recyclable.

Upcycling Decorations:Rather than discarding decorations after the holidays, consider upcycling or donating them. This not only reduces waste but also extends the life cycle of festive ornaments.

Eco-friendly Gifts: Consider giving experiences, consumables, or gifts made from sustainable materials which don’t produce much waste.

By making conscious choices, individuals and businesses alike can contribute to a greener and more sustainable Christmas. As a Total Waste Management Business, we are committed to raising awareness about environmental issues and providing sustainable solutions. Let’s celebrate the season without compromising on a sustainable future!