Festive season clean-up guide

Published on 24 November 2022

Recycling Santa with Christmas tree

When Christmas lunch is over and you’re finally relaxing on the lounge, with the kids playing cricket or with their favourite seasonal gifts, your eyes drift to the sea of Christmas wrapping, toy packaging, decorations and leftovers. You wonder - what will you do with it all?

Use our Festival Season Recycling & Disposal Guide below to help you get through the holiday season.

Download the Planet Ark Festive Green Guide(PDF, 3MB)


Batteries are a toxic issue that comes part and parcel with Christmas. Non-alkaline batteries are banned from landfill and CANNOT be placed in any of the kerbside bins – so how can you dispose of them?

You can now drop off all types and brands of batteries in special collection bins at any of the following stores, no matter where you purchased them:

  • Aldi
  • Drakes
  • Foodland
  • Mitre 10
  • Total Tools
  • Woolworths

Find accepted batteries and drop-off locations here.

Suggestion – give gifts that don’t require batteries, or if you do need batteries, buy rechargeable batteries and a charger, as rechargeable batteries have up to 32 times less impact on the environment than disposable batteries and after using them a few times you are actually saving money as well as energy!


Christmas trees (artificial)

Waste to landfill bin Artificial Christmas trees cannot be recycled, but there are ways to reuse them.

If your tree is still in good shape, see if you can donate it to a second-hand store or sell it online.

Recycling option - If trees have a metal base or frame, contact your local scrap metal merchant to see if it can be dropped off for recycling.

Repurpose option - why not cut the best limbs off an artificial Christmas tree and use them to create wreaths, garlands and other home decorations. 

Christmas trees (real)

Green organics bin Please remove all decorations and cut trees to a length that will not protrude from the bin.

These trees will then be composted.

Larger trees can be taken to a waste transfer station where organic items are separated from other rubbish for composting.

These can also be used in your home compost – a Christmas present for your garden! 

Christmas tree lights (and other electrical items)

Christmas tree lights are a popular Christmas decoration however they can be tricky to dispose of. Electrical items CANNOT be placed in any of the kerbside bins – so how can you dispose of them?

Recycling option – light globes can be dropped off at any of the light globe recycling points in our area, then/or take the lights cabling to an e-waste recycler.

Recycling option - some scrap metal dealers will accept old lights for recycling (the copper inside the wires is very valuable). contact your local scrap metal merchant to see if it can be dropped off for recycling.

Please DO NOT place lights or decorations of any kind in the recycling bin as they can damage the machinery at the sorting facility.

Christmas cards

Recycling bin Christmas cards can go in the recycling bin.

Repurpose option – why not get creative and turn your old greeting cards into new gift tags and cards ready for next Christmas.

Christmas crackers

Recycling bin Christmas crackers can go in the recycling bin.

Please remove any decorations, ribbons and toys, then Christmas crackers can go in the recycling bin.


Corks can be donated to the Waste Nott Recycling Store for kids craft activities. They can also be dropped off at the Willunga Environment Centre.


Waste to landfill binPut them in the red/waste to landfill bin.

The muselet (metal cap and wire cage) on champagne corks can go loose in the yellow/recycling bin.

Drink packaging

Recycling bin Drink bottles and cans can go into recycling bin, but remember some have 10 cent refundable deposits.

Wine and water cask boxes go in the recycling bin. Please make sure to remove the cask bladder which goes in the waste bin.

Festive food

Celebrating the festive season usually means buying a lot of food, but you can quickly get tired of the sight of leftovers a day or so after Christmas Day.

Reuse option – check out some of the terrific Christmas food leftovers recipes on the internet.

Composting option – some leftovers can be recycled into compost in your home compost bin, Bokashi or worm farm (if not fed to your pets or chooks!). If you don’t already have one, we encourage home composting with a 50% subsidy.

Green organics bin Food scraps

Remove any packaging or labels, then they are fine to go in the green organics bin.

This includes ALL food items: fruit & vegetable, meat, seafood, dairy, baked goods and processed foods.

Green organics bin Compostable plates, cups & cutlery (paper, corn starch, bamboo, wood), serviettes and paper towels

These make great compost when you put them in the green organics bin.

Waste to landfill binPlastic plates and cutlery

Just scrape any food off for the compost of green organics bin, then of food then these can go in the waste to landfill bin. 


Christmas tree ornaments are made with all kinds of different materials: glass, clay, wood, paper, plastic and more.

Consider purchasing quality Christmas decorations that can be reused and handed down through the generations for years to come.

Waste to landfill bin Glass

Glass is difficult to recycle unless it is a jar or bottle, so you cannot recycle glass balls or ornaments.Please place these in the waste bin.

Waste to landfill bin Fired clay

Clay is not recyclable so please place these in the waste bin.

Waste to landfill bin Wood

Any wood that has been treated, painted, varnished, glued cannot be composted so please place them in the waste bin.

Recycling bin Paper

Most paper ornaments can be recycled.

If your kids have made some decorations with noodles, photographs, ribbons or other decorations, please remove these as ONLY the paper can be recycled.

Waste to landfill bin Plastic

Due to the sprays and coatings on most plastic ornaments, these cannot be recycled, so please place them in the waste bin.

Party poppers

Green organics binStreamers and the cardboard base from party poppers are too small to recycle so please ‘pop’ these in the green organics bin.

Waste to landfill bin The plastic casing should go in the waste bin please.


Did you know these shiny, silvery strands used to be made from brass, copper or lead? Unfortunately, today’s tinsel isn’t much better for the environment. Not only is it non-recyclable, but most of it is made from PVC with an aluminium coating.

Waste to landfill bin Please reuse your tinsel as long as you can before putting it in the waste bin.

Toy / gift packaging

Most of our gifts come presented in layers of packaging however not all of it is recyclable!

Recycling bin Gift boxes

Many toys/gifts come in a combination of a box and a protective hard plastic cover. Both can go in the recycling bin, however please separate them before putting the cardboard and plastic in the bin.

Remember to flatten boxes to save room in your recycling bin.

Recycling bin Gift bags

This option for ‘wrapping’ is increasingly popular. Plus the bags are really easy to store and great to use again.

If damaged, paper gift bags can be recycled – please remove any handles or decorations which could contaminate the paper recycling stream.

Waste to landfill bin Polystyrene / foam

Please dispose of ALL foam items in the waste bin.

Waste to landfill bin Ribbon

Please remove and ribbons, ties, cords, raffia – these are easy to store and reuse. Otherwise please place them in the waste bin.

Wrapping - paper

Recycling bin Paper wrapping can go in the recycling bin or be stored to reuse whenever possible.

Suggestion – Newspaper, tea towels or bags often make good gift wrapping, and reusable ribbon is a better choice than sticky tape. Children's artworks made great wrapping for presents and give a personal touch.

Wrapping - tissue paper

Green organics binRemove any sticky tape and ribbons, then tissue paper should go in the compost or green organics bin as it’s often made from recycled fibres too short to recycle again.

Wrapping - foil or plastic

Waste to landfill bin Foil and plastic wrapping (e.g. cellophane) or wrap containing glitter or plastics cannot be recycled and should go in the waste bin. 

Wreaths & table decorations

Waste to landfill bin Christmas wreaths & table decorations are made with all kinds of different materials: glass, wood, paper, plastic, wax, foam and more. These items should go in the waste bin.

Please DO NOT place these items in the recycling bin as there is no way to separate them into their component materials, most of which would not be recyclable.