13 December 2023

Step into Christmas with some canny recycling tips

Eleanor Shorland
Packaging Recycling Education Officer, Tata Steel UK

Canned food is a storecupboard staple and never more so than at Christmas.

Many of the foods that we turn to over the festive season come in cans and there’s some great Christmas recipe ideas using canned food at Canned Food UK.  

These include Turkey and stuffing pie and Leftover turkey hotpot. Or for dessert, a tasty meringue wreath with Christmas spiced apricots; or how about a delicious Retro trifle?

Canned food is great value and so easy to use. The food is cooked in the can, so you just open and go - saving time and money at the most expensive week of the year.

And best of all, used food cans can go straight into the recycling bin!

But food cans are just the tip of the festive recycling iceberg. There’s so much more we can do.

There are other forms of metal packaging often overlooked for Christmas recycling – jar lids, or ‘closures’ as they are known in packaging circles.

Take cranberry sauce, a stalwart of the Christmas table containing, I’m told, 200 berries per jar! 

What we often forget as we empty that jar, is that it’s not just the glass component that is recyclable; the steel lid is too, and lids can go straight into your household recycling bin. 

Alternatively, you can leave them on the jar, and they will get picked up through the glass recycling route.

And glass bottle tops, or crowns: made of steel these are also recyclable. 

Of course, Christmas is a time when we feel free to indulge ourselves and what better than an afternoon film with a cup of tea and a tin of biscuits to hand?

Decorative biscuit and sweet tins not only make great gifts, but they can also have a second (or third or fourth life) once the contents have been consumed. They can be used to store any manner of household and DIY items. A gift that keeps on giving!

But even if you don’t want to hang onto these lovely tins, they too can be recycled and, who knows, the recycled steel may come back next year as a completely different tin.

Food and drink aside, there’s a Christmas surge for another metal pack - aerosols. Many beauty products and household cleaning products come in aerosol packs and, regardless of whether they’re steel or aluminium, they too can be recycled.  

In fact, Tata Steel has recently signed up to the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative – a campaign to encourage recycling of used aerosols as appreciation of their recycling credentials is low compared to other household metal containers.

Easily captured for recycling through existing UK recycling schemes – through kerbside, or magnetically extracted after waste incineration - steel aerosols make a valuable contribution to UK steel recycling rates.

According to the Bank of England we spend 29 per cent more in December than any other month. We also create around 30 per cent more waste. So, it stands to reason that this huge increase should be reflected in our household recycling. 

So, instead of rockin’ around the Christmas tree this year, let’s rock around the Christmas recycling bin and celebrate steel’s great sustainability story with some canny recycling. 

Happy Christmas.