Gifts wrapped in recyclable brown paper with baubles and sprigs of fir tree Gifts wrapped in recyclable brown paper with baubles and sprigs of fir tree

Waste and recycling over the festive season

Your one-stop-shop for seasonal waste and recycling details to ease the holiday stress. Find out when your collection days will be over the holiday season, when your Christmas tree will be collected and some festive tips on how to have a waste free break.

Bulky and Garden Waste

Due to minimal demand for garden waste collections during the winter holiday, we temporarily suspend this service.

By redirecting the crews who usually tackle bulky and garden waste, we are able to manage the increased volume of recycling at this time of year. This also enables us to continue to collect Christmas trees from households across the city.

Remember, you can still take bulky, garden waste and Christmas trees to one of our Household Reuse and Recycling Centres, compost garden waste at home or wait for the next scheduled collection.

Find your next collection using Bristol City Council’s the council’s handy collection day finder.

Cat in a Christmas tree

What happens to old Christmas trees?

The trees go through a long composting process to produce a material used for land regeneration and energy.

All decorations must be removed from your tree and left where you would normally put out your refuse or recycling. Please note that we cannot accept trees that are taller than two metres.

Your collection calendar will show a yellow tree symbol to mark the day of your Christmas tree collection.

Find out here!
Christmas dinner

Festive food

Eat, drink and be merry for sure but check out our festive food page.

Find out how to waste less, save money and make sure that any unavoidable food waste goes in your brown food waste bins.

Food waste is a valuable resource for Bristol and is transformed in to energy to help power our city.

Festive Food
Pile of Christmas cards

Can you recycle your holiday cards?

Cards can be recycled in your blue bag. We don’t take cards with glitter on as this contaminates the recycling stream. Tear the glittery part of the card off and put it in your wheelie bin, then put then non-glittery cardboard in the blue bag.

On the topic of cardboard…gifts inevitably include packaging, much of which is cardboard. Please remove tape and stickers, then flatten or fold your cardboard so it fits inside your blue bag. This ensures the cardboard will fit into the compartment in our recycling trucks.

Make your cards into gift tags
Presents wrapped in brown paper and reused gift tags

Can you recycle wrapping paper in Bristol?

Unfortunately, we are unable to recycle your wrapping paper. This is because most of it has either a plastic or foil coating, and if it ends up in the recycling box it would contaminate our whole paper stream. Please place in your black wheelie bin instead.

You can avoid non-recyclable wrapping paper by wrapping presents in traditional brown paper or fabric with ribbons or thin strips of fabric to make bows. Or how about using bright material scraps or pictures from a colourful magazine?

Fairy lights in a window

How to dispose of fairy lights

We’ve all been there. Finally dug out the fairy lights to adorn your tree and they aren’t working.

If they are beyond repair please don’t throw them in your black wheelie bin, or they will end up in landfill. Pop them in a clear bag in your black recycling box or take them to one of our household waste recycling centres.

It’s a simple way to do your bit to remove them from the waste stream.

A person whose face cannot be seen is holding a present wrapped in brown paper and tied with striped string

What can you do with unwanted gifts

Didn’t like or use what granny gave you last year? That knitted jumper Aunty Sue gave you not your style? Why not re-gift it to someone who will? Alternatively, there are plenty of charity shops to donate them to so others can feel the love.

Our Reuse Shops
A used battery from a toy is being placed into a jar of other used batteries

Bin batteries safely

Overused the remote this festive season? Kids drained their gadgets? Please put your used batteries out for recycling in the black box. Be sure these don’t get mixed up with other recyclables by putting them in a clear plastic bag so they are easily identifiable.

Binning batteries safely saves lives
Cars park next to material bays at the Hartcliffe Way recycling centre

Recycling centre opening times

Our three Bristol reuse and recycling centres are closed on Christmas Day (25 December), Boxing Day (26 December) and New Years Day (1 January).

The perfect place to recycle broken fairy lights, used Christmas trees and additional seasonal waste for free, you can book your recycling centre visit online as little as one hour before.

Book a visit to a reuse and recycling centre

Download your collection calendar

Disclaimer: bins and boxes are not a safe place to leave deliveries and we are not responsible for any items that are incorrectly placed in them.


Thanks for reading our festive tips. Happy holidays!