All About Christmas Card Recycling

Recycling Christmas cards is incredibly easy for both businesses and households. As January arrives, it’s time to take down all those cards with nativity scenes, cartoon reindeers, and dirty Santa jokes (thanks Uncle John), whether they’re from clients, friends, or family. But don’t just chuck them in your general waste bin!

Instead, recycling old Christmas cards should be your first action. The good news is that almost all Christmas cards are recyclable. When it comes to disposing of Christmas cards it’s easy to ensure your home or business is as green as the Christmas tree was when you first put it up (the less said about its browning leaves now, the better).

Discover everything you need to know about recycling Christmas cards and do your bit for the planet in this guide.

For all things relating to Christmas waste including statistics visit our Christmas waste hub.

Christmas cards on wooden table.

Christmas card 
waste facts

Every year millions of Brits get sore hands from writing Christmas cards to workmates we see every day and long-lost university friends we haven’t spoken to in years. And millions of us also get annoyed receiving millions of cards containing mundane round robins and more glitter than you see on a dress from Strictly.

They do add a festive feel to any home or business, but recycling is vital once the holiday season is over. To instill the importance of Christmas card recycling, a few fascinating facts and stats about Christmas card waste are:

  • 30,000 tons of Christmas cards are thrown away every year in the UK.
  • All the Christmas cards thrown out is equivalent to £2.8 million worth of landfill
  • Currently, just one in four Christmas cards are recycled.
  • It’s estimated that around 8 billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the UK.
  • The average UK household sends 50 Christmas cards each year.
  • One tree can be turned into 3,000 Christmas cards.
  • Around 500 million Christmas e-cards are also delivered every holiday season.
  • Christmas cards are the most poplar of all greetings cards – accounting for 61% of seasonal greeting card sales in the USA.
Discover more Christmas waste facts

Can you recycle 
Christmas cards?

You can recycle paper-based Christmas and envelopes. Therefore, most traditional Christmas cards are recyclable, and you can put them in your household recycling bin or take them to local recycling points (such as a nearby household waste recycling centre or some supermarkets). However, you must remove any non-paper or card-based additions, such as glitter and foil, to recycle Christmas cards.

You cannot recycle Christmas cards that contain:

  • Plastic
  • Glitter
  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Ribbons
Learn more about recycling greetings cards 
Christmas cards overlapping.

Do Christmas cards go in 
paper or cardboard recycling?

Christmas cards can be recycled in either a paper or cardboard recycling bin. As the fibres in paper and cardboard are similar (sharing similar characteristics of wood pulp when broken down), they can be recycled together. Christmas cards are paper based, so you can recycle them with paper, cardboard, or dry mixed recycling.

At home, simply put any Christmas cards in your domestic recycling bin alongside plastic bottles, metal drinks cans, cardboard boxes, and other recyclables. You can also remove and recycle many embellishments some Christmas cards contain, including:

  • Batteries – recycle with your WEEE waste or take to a battery recycling point.
  • Plastic – any solid bits of plastic can be removed and sent for plastic recycling.
  • Glitter and ribbons – unfortunately, these aren’t recyclable, so should be disposed of with your general waste.

Where can I take my 
Christmas cards for recycling?

There are a few places you can take old Christmas cards in January for recycling:

  • Paper or cardboard recycling bin – commercial cardboard and paper recycling bins at work provide an easy way to recycle your old cards.
  • Supermarkets – many supermarkets have specific bins or recycling pints in January to collect Christmas cards for recycling.
  • Household waste recycling centres – for local Christmas card recycling visit your nearest household waste recycling centre.

Why should I 
recycle Christmas cards?

I’ve already got general waste bins, can’t I just chuck them in there? No – Christmas cards are one of the easiest types of waste to recycle, so you should always put them in your domestic recycling bin or a cardboard or dry mixed recycling bin at work.

It’s the sustainable and responsible option, as the cards can be turned into new paper and card products. This saves on the materials and energy required to create new Christmas cards for next year, reducing carbon emissions that affect global warming.

Plus, for businesses, recycling old Christmas cards saves you money on landfill tax. Throw them away with general waste and they’ll be sent to landfill or for incineration, increasing how much landfill tax you pay. Recycle them with cardboard and dry mixed recycling and you avoid these costs.

Explore the advantages of recycling
Christmas card in Christmas tree.

Christmas card 
recycling ideas

An old Christmas card still has plenty of life left in it. Aside from recycling it there are many other things you can do with any old Christmas cards you find yourself with in January. A few alternative Christmas card recycling ideas include to:

  • Make gift tags – simply cut out any aspect of a Christmas card that would make a good gift tag, punch a hole in the corner, and thread through some ribbon. Get creative and make gift tags in various shapes and sizes.
  • Create a collage – cut out any of the designs from your old Christmas cards and arrange them in a picture frame to create an effective festive collage.
  • Turn into new cards – don’t just cross out the names and resend. Instead, cut to size any of the images you like and stick on a blank card to make some new Christmas cards ready for next year.
  • Use as decorations – cut up the cards into evenly sizes strips and loop them together to make festive paper chains. You could also cut them into shapes and thread them onto some string to form festive bunting.
  • Build a puzzle – slice up an old Christmas card into funky shapes to create a fun puzzle for kids and adults. Cut it into as many shapes and sizes as you like for an easy or tricky challenge.

These Christmas card recycling ideas are a great way to reduce the waste you or your business makes over the holiday season. You can find out more ways to minimise the Christmas waste you create in our extensive guides to Christmas waste.

Learn more in our Christmas waste guides
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