High environmental price of a very merry Christmas

A A A

As many as six million Christmas trees, enough to stretch end to end from London to the North Pole and back, will be incinerated or dumped into landfill sites in Britain once the festive season is over, research has revealed.

The festive season comes at a high price in environmental terms, with people being urged to pledge a greener Christmas by making a major effort to recycle the mountain of Yuletide rubbish which is about to accumulate.

As well as the waste firs and pines, more than a billion Christmas cards are likely to be dumped or burnt - which, laid end to end, would stretch around the world five times.

And that's not all. About 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will also be thrown out or burnt - enough to gift-wrap the island of Jersey. You can also add to that 125,000 tons of plastic packaging - which, the Liberal Democrats helpfully point out, is the equivalent of more than a million John Prescotts.

"This is all totally unsustainable," the Liberal Democrats' green spokesman, Chris Huhne, said. "Britain is facing a season of bad will towards the environment with Christmas tree recycling levels falling like their own needles. The Government needs to provide universal recycling of all Christmas waste, and must put more pressure on manufacturers and supermarkets to cut the massive overuse of packaging. Having a Merry Christmas could end in a rubbish New Year."

Figures dug out by Mr Huhne in a recent Parliamentary answer indicate that nearly two million trees are recycled by local authorities in England and Wales. But the British Christmas Tree Growers' Association estimates that as many as eight million real Christmas trees are bought every year, so as many as six million trees will be dumped or burnt, the Liberal Democrats say. Assuming an average height of 6ft 6in they would stretch end to end a distance of 7,386 miles. (The distance from London to the North Pole is 3588 miles.)

The best way to recycle trees is via local authorities. Some will collect them; with other councils, householders need to take the trees to a collection point. But cards can now be recycled in high street stores, thanks to the green charity The Woodland Trust, which has teamed up with Recycle Now, the national recycling campaign for England, for the third year running as part of its annual Christmas card recycling scheme.

Collections in January 2006 broke all previous records with a remarkable 82 million Christmas cards collected, a 41 per cent increase on 2005. Next month, when the scheme is aiming to hit the 90 million mark, cards will be collected in Tesco, WH Smith and TK Maxx stores nationwide. The cards will then be taken to paper mills for recycling.

The money raised in the scheme will help the Woodland Trust to save existing, and create new woodland, said Sue Holden, the Woodland Trust's chief executive. "You're helping us to plant thousands of new trees and protect the little ancient woodland we have left in the UK," she said.

The UK waste fallout from 25 December 2006

* More than a billion Christmas cards - 17 for every man, woman and child - will be delivered this year. That's enough to stretch around the world five times.

* 52 square miles of wrapping paper - enough to gift-wrap Jersey - will be ripped off by Boxing Day.

* 125,000 tons of plastic packaging - equal to a million John Prescotts - will end up in the bin.

* Six million trees have been bought but only 1.2 million will be recycled. The rest will be left to rot or be thrown away.

* Shops sell 16 million turkeys and 830 million sprouts. Up to 40 per cent of festive food is wasted.

* Turkey foil wrap will create 3,000 tons of waste.

* Within three months, 41 per cent of the toys children receive will be broken. Most will go to the tip.

* Many will get the latest mobile phone but only 10 to 15 per cent are recycled.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone