This year, it’s expected that in the UK we’ll spend more than £77 billion this Christmas – almost double the European average – with the average UK adult spending £280 on Christmas presents alone. And we all know that this amount of spending on goods, food and drink is also going to result in a lot of Christmas waste.
Food waste is a huge problem and the excesses of Christmas is bound to produce even more over the festive period. It’s estimated that in London alone, 900,000 tonnes of food is thrown away every year, more than half of which could have been eaten, and all of which could have been recycled.
In September this year, environmental groups came together to launch Trifocal – Transforming City Food habits for Life – which has received funding to give Londoners messages about how they can reduce the amount of food wasted, and how they can recycle food waste that can’t be avoided. Trifocal will work with people across the board, targeting individuals, schools and communities as well as hospitality organisations and food shops.
Whilst Christmas presents are lovely to have, they always come with a lot of associated waste in the form of wrapping paper, packaging, batteries etc.
Then there’s the added problem of new gifts being replacements for older possessions – phones, ipads and tablets, bicycles, clothes etc. The waste produced from people getting rid of their older possessions could be phenomenal if these products aren’t sold on or given away.
Thankfully, many of the major shops have customer recycling schemes which help make it easier for shoppers to recycle waste after Christmas. Supermarkets usually have the facilities for people to drop off used batteries, old carrier bags and even printer cartridges, and many will put up bins to collect our old Christmas cards which would otherwise probably go to landfill. Some clothes shops, like M&S and TK Maxx, make it easy for customers to donate their old clothes in their stores in order to help make money for charity. And by donating unwanted clothes to charity shops, the public diverts 331K tonnes of clothes from landfill every year with a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of over 4 million tonnes a year.
So whilst waste at Christmas could be a phenomenal problem, by educating people to dispose of it in the most eco-friendly way possible, it doesn’t have to end up in landfill.