Have an eco-friendly Christmas

Residents are being encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle this Christmas to help prevent a season of waste, by Merton Council and its recycling and waste partner Veolia. Recycling and rubbish collection days are changing over the festive season, so residents are being urged to check which days their bins and boxes will be emptied.

Across the UK, people are expected to produce 30%* more waste this Christmas than at any other time of the year – that’s an extra three million tonnes. The increase in food shopping, plus gift buying, results in almost a third more waste being collected in December and January than at any other time of the year. Over a billion cards will be sent; 227,000 miles of wrapping paper will be used and 17.2 million sprouts will be thrown in the bin.

However, planning ahead can help make celebrations more sustainable. Here are a few simple ways to reduce the amount being thrown away, while saving money too:

  1. Spread festive cheer online: E-cards and e-vouchers can brighten a loved one’s day, without generating any waste. Residents can purchase them online from the safety of their home and avoid unnecessary paper waste whilst sending virtual merriness.
  1. Online shopping: If you are buying presents online, placing one order per store will reduce packaging waste. Some of this, for example, bubble wrap and polystyrene, cannot be recycled. Fewer deliveries will also reduce the number of vehicles on the road, easing traffic congestion and decreasing the amount of harmful emissions that have a detrimental effect on air quality.
  2. Menu planning: 70% of Britons admit that they buy far more food than they need over the festive period. Plan what you are going to eat in advance to prevent buying too much. If you have over-ordered, most foods can be frozen if the use by date has not passed.

Preventing unnecessary waste over the festive period is essential to reducing Merton’s environmental impact. However, where waste is unavoidable, residents are encouraged to make full use of their recycling service, to help preserve precious resources. 

Check your recycling and rubbish collection days. These will be changing in Merton throughout the festive season.

Please avoid having a clear out over the holidays, which is the busiest time for our hardworking collection crews. The council’s Merton Together campaign has highlighted the efforts of crews to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on vital services for residents, keeping recycling and rubbish collection services going throughout the pandemic.

The Household Reuse and Recycling Centre in Garth Road, Morden, will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. On Christmas Eve it will be open between 8am-midday. On all other days, opening hours are 8am-4pm. Advance booking is essential for weekday visits, Merton Council’s website: merton.gov.uk/recycling  

After the festivities, residents are urged to recycle as much as possible from their homes:

  1. Cardboard boxes: Flatten them before putting them in your blue-lidded wheelie bin to make more space. If you scrunch your wrapping paper up and it stays in a ball, it can be recycled too.
  2. Food waste: Don’t let your leftovers go to waste. Try out new recipes to eat up food which is leftover from the celebrations. Put peelings and plate scrapings into your food waste caddy or compost them at home.
  1. Glass bottles and aluminum cans: Put these into your green and purple boxes, so they can be recycled into new items.
  1. Christmas trees: We will collect real Christmas trees free of charge. After you have removed all the decorations, place your tree as close to the boundary of your property as possible, without blocking the pavement. All trees must be out by 6am on Monday 18 January, or they will not be collected.
  2. Batteries: Please do not put batteries in household recycling or rubbish bins. Place them in a small untied bag next to your recycling bin for collection or recycle them at the supermarket or at the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre in Garth Road, Morden.  

If you or someone living with you has coronavirus or is waiting for their test result, please dispose of your rubbish safely.

Store personal waste, such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths in disposable rubbish bags. Place these bags into a second bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. These bags should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being out in your usual external general waste bin.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces, Councillor Natasha Irons, said: “The festive season can be costly for our environment, as well as our pockets. Planning what gifts and food we need and buying items with less packaging will help to reduce the amount we throw away and the cost of Christmas.  

“Just like Santa, Christmas is the busiest time of the year for our collection crews, who have worked tirelessly during this unprecedented year, which has seen levels of waste during a month of lockdown equivalent to those usually seen in December.

“Our Merton Together campaign has highlighted the gratitude we all have to the crews for keeping vital collection services running throughout the pandemic. Christmas is an extra challenge for our hard working crews, so please help them by checking when to put your recycling and rubbish out for collection. As this difficult year draws to a close, we wish everyone a safe and sustainable Christmas.” 

Veolia’s SLWP General Manager, Scott Edgell said: “Christmas is a time where we all tend to create a bit more waste than usual, so it’s vital that Merton residents reduce, reuse and recycle this festive season. We hope that our tips remind people of the small things they can do to celebrate more sustainably, which makes Christmas all the more special. After a tough year, we’d like to extend our best (sustainable!) season’s greetings to you all.”

For further information on what you can recycle in each container, changes to your recycling and rubbish collection days over the festive season and to download a collections calendar for your property, please visit merton.gov.uk/recycling

For more tips on having a sustainable Christmas, visit www.veolia.co.uk/london/Christmas