Festive Recycling advice from Edinburgh Council

The City of Edinburgh Council has released a series of information giving information hoping to make your bin collections as easy as possible this festive period.

Since the approval of a Waste and Cleansing Improvement plan in November 2016, enquiries about communal, kerbside and trade waste have seen a downward trend, with half the number of complaints in the first three weeks of December compared to the same period in 2015.

Now, minimal changes to collections over Christmas and New Year will also help residents dispose of waste responsibly. For anyone whose recycling or landfill bins are collected on a Monday, collections will take place on the previous Saturday over the two weeks. This means collections will take place on Saturday, 23 December rather than Monday, 25 December and Saturday, 30 December rather than Monday, 1 January.

Otherwise, households will be able to put their grey and green wheelie bins, food waste bins and blue boxes out as usual, including on Tuesday 26 December and Tuesday 2 January. Communal bin collections will largely be unaffected.

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said:

We’ve been working hard to address issues across the service, so I’m pleased to see missed bin complaints have dropped as the year comes to an end. Now, as we’re approaching this busy time when we tend to accumulate lots more waste, we want to ensure the service runs as smoothly as possible.

Thanks to the hard work of staff over Christmas and New Year, bin collections will continue with minimal changes, meaning that it’s easy for residents to recycle wrapping paper, food tins and any other rubbish.

Last year we collected over 35,000 tonnes of waste during December and January, 42% of which was recycled. However, we know this figure should be nearer 70%, so I would encourage the public to recycle their Christmas rubbish where they can, helping to create a greener New Year for Edinburgh.

The 65-point Waste and Cleansing Improvement plan has seen a range of improvements implemented since its approval, including analysis of repeat missed bin collections and the causes, waste compliance work with local businesses and the introduction of ‘Routesmart’ software, enabling better collection routing.

As a result, street cleansing and bin complaints have fallen, with remaining actions aiming to further improve the service.

Christmas Tree recycling

Residents across the city will be able to recycle real Christmas trees, which will be collected by the Council and turned into compost. Those with a brown bin should place their tree on the kerbside by 6am on their next garden waste collection day (collection days can be checked online).

Residents in communal areas who use on-street shared bins can put their tree on the pavement outside their property on designated collection dates during January – these can also be checked online.

Christmas trees can also be recycled at any of the Household Waste Recycling Centres. The sites will be closed 25 and 26 December and 1, 2 and 3 January.

To enable trees to be recycled, residents are reminded:

– To remove all decorations from the Christmas tree
– To remove stands from trees
– To cut the tree in half if is 6ft tall or more
– Not to place trees in plastic bags, which means they cannot be recycled

Top tips for Christmas recycling

Christmas cards

Hopefully you’ll have Christmas cards on display throughout the season, but once it’s time for a clear-out, cards should be placed in mixed or packaging bins for those who use the communal service, and the green mixed wheelie bin for people who receive kerbside collections. Envelopes should go in mixed or paper recycling bins.


Once the toys and tech gifts are out of the box and well played-with, what to do with the packaging? Cardboard boxes can be deposited in mixed or packaging (communal residents only) bins but polystyrene is non-recyclable – dispose of this in landfill bins.

Plastic toys

Out with the old, in with the new? They may be plastic, but discarded, once-loved toys cannot be recycled in kerbside or communal bins to make way for shiny Christmas presents. These can be taken to one of our Household Waste Recycling Centres or, if in good condition, donated to charity. For those who receive kerbside collections, small electrical items, such as hairdryers and toasters, can be placed in the blue box.
Wrapping paper

Surely if it’s ‘paper’ it should go in with the paper recycling…Not necessarily. Wrapping made with metallic film is not currently recycled. However, all paper wrapping can be disposed of in paper (communal residents only) or mixed recycling bins.

Tins and foil

Tins and foil are welcome in packaging (communal residents only) and mixed recycling bins – but must be clean. So any disposable turkey tins, foil that’s wrapped leftovers or empty cans should be thoroughly washed.

Plastic bags

You’ve completed the Christmas shopping at last, and have the bags to prove it. But once they’ve been emptied, can they be recycled? While plastic bags are not accepted in kerbside or recycling bins, some supermarkets will recycle them – find out in your local store. Alternatively, help save the environment and avoid a 5p charge by reusing for your next shop.

Plastic tubs

The sweets have been polished off – now it’s time to get rid of the tubs they came in. Once clean, these can be placed in mixed or packaging (communal residents only) recycling bins for a tidy home and a healthy start to the New Year!

In order to minimise food waste, it’s best to buy and cook the appropriate amount of food. But even after a week of turkey sandwiches, the bones still need to go in the bin. These, along with other food waste like egg shells, fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags and any leftover food that can’t be eaten, can be bagged in either a compostable liner, carrier bag or wrapped in newspaper and deposited in the grey food caddy by residents with kerbside collections, or on-street food recycling bins by people living in flats or tenements.

Find out more about rubbish and recycling on the Council website.

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