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Last Updated 17th June 2019
Posted In: Environment | Guides & Advice

An Often Over-Looked Part of Christmas

A list of fun (and serious) Christmas packaging facts…

Throughout the festive period, with the presents stacked high and the smell of the turkey and Christmas pudding making its way through the house, it’s unlikely many of us will turn our thoughts toward the packaging of all of these gifts and pleasantries.

However, when you start looking at the facts and figures associated with Christmas packaging, it can be both surprising and eye opening.

Christmas packaging recycling
With so much excitement surrounding many elements of Christmas, packaging and the recycling of it can be easily overlooked

Christmas Food Packaging Facts

For many of us, overindulging in food (or drink!) is our favourite part of the Christmas season. However, the amount and type of packaging these food products use is usually the last thought in our minds. As such, we’ve concocted the below list of food packaging facts for you!

10 million turkeys were consumed last Christmas meaning over 3,000 tonnes of turkey packaging will be used.

The UK alone will eat 25 million Christmas puddings in which an ample amount will be packaged in some form of plastic and cardboard packaging.

In addition, we eat 175 million mince pies where 1 million mince pie cases are equal to 1 tonne of aluminium.

A popular choice for seasonal party food – Crisps. Did you know? – All crisp packets made in the UK have a Saturday expiry date this is due to manufacturing days.

An additional 500 million canned drinks are sold over the festive period – just one recycled aluminium can is enough source of energy to run a set of Christmas tree lights for two whole hours!

Ordering wine at your Christmas parties? – A wine bottle is the size it is (750ml) because it is the average capacity of a glassblower’s lungs.

In relation, around 13,350 tonnes of glass is binned every year during December and January. If all of this was recycled we could save 4,200 tonnes of CO2 which is the same as taking 1,300 cars off the road every year.

Other product of waste includes 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping including the 10 million items of turkey packaging.

Christmas Packaging and Recycling

As you can see, that is a lot of packaging just for your Christmas food. That in turn leads to (hopefully) a lot of recycling too. Here then, are 11 eye-opening Christmas Packaging and Recycling related facts designed to give you a new perspective on the realities behind recycling.

Consumers in the UK will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year – over 83km2 of this will end up in our bins.

It takes 1 tree to make 3,000 Christmas cards – on average each person will send / receive 17 Christmas cards – 1 tree is only enough for 176 people to send cards to their loved ones.

1 billion Christmas Cards will end up in bins the equivalent of 33 million trees!

The total of card packaging used over Christmas could cover big ben 260,000 times.

That being said, that 300,000 tonnes of card packaging is equal to a return between London and Lapland.. 103 times!

What’s worse – 400,000 tonnes of both paper and card packaging weren’t collected for recycling from UK households in 2014.

Every UK council in the UK will accept paper recycling and 98% will accept card for recycling.

Just one single tonne of landfill costs £56 in taxes – this year’s potential tax bill for the disposal of the plastic, card, foil and other materials could reach up to £168 million.

80% of toy packaging is usually made from both paper and card – both of which are fully recyclable –only 1% of household packaging is toy packaging.

At least one of the gifts you order online will have used bubble wrap as a protective layer for shipping but did you know its original purpose was to be used as textured wallpaper.

Your new apple device packaging has been specially designed in a dedicated secret room for packaging only at Apple Headquarters in California.

Surprising Christmas packaging facts
Just how much Christmas packaging is used - and ends up as waste - is very surprising

Other Christmas Facts

We often discard rubbish without a second thought – not just at Christmas but, at any given time of the year. This means there are some informative (and arguably depressing) facts displaying exactly how much is thrown away.

An extra 30% of rubbish is produced and discarded of throughout the festive period in comparison to the rest of the year, creating 3 million tonnes of waste.

The UK will throw away approximately 500 tonnes of Christmas lights every year!

12,000 tonnes of this will be the 8 million Christmas Trees which people have bought and thrown away.

Fun Fact: traditional Christmas colours are greens, reds and golds but did you know the human eye can distinguish more shades of green than any other colour?

In addition approximately £42 million of unwanted Christmas presents are thrown out in landfill each year.

Packaging and The Environment

The amount we choose to either recycle or discard has a direct impact on our environment. So, not only this year but every year, why not save energy with these thought-provoking sustainability facts.

One recycled plastic bottle is saving enough energy to power a 60W light bulb for six hours.

But if you recycle one glass bottle … you will save enough energy to run a 100W bulb for 4 hours!

If every single newspaper was recycled we could save 250 million trees every year.

However, the average family throws away 6 trees of paper – if we recycled all of this paper we would use 70% less energy than making it from raw materials.

Just one tonne of recycled paper would save 17 trees, 18.7 square foot of landfill space and a large 4,000 kilowatts of electricity.

Christmas packaging info
Other statistics surrounding packaging use can be as equally eye opening as those on Christmas packaging

If you were to drive a mile less per day – or to turn your thermostat down by two degrees – you’d save enough energy to make the packaging for an average household’s whole year’s supply of packaged goods.

Household recycling items such as glass jars can be recycled where one will save enough energy to power an iPad for 15 days.

Glass Jars, however, are now on average 30% lighter than they were in 1980.

Aluminium tins / cans can be recycled over and over with no limit – it takes just 60 days for a can to be recycled and made into a new one.
Cans have also reduced material usage over the last 20 years – the thinnest part of an aluminium can is the same thickness as a human hair!

Household packaging waste is on average 20% by weight of the contents of your rubbish bin, whereas, when compressed in landfill all sources of packaging is less than 5% by weight of the total waste.

Plastic carrier bags now only make up 0.06% of waste sent to landfill.

Why is Packaging So Widespread?

The industrial revolution sparked the need for products to be protected as trading took off – 3 centuries later and packaging has evolved into the innovative product we see today. The section below contains packaging facts that show how widespread packaging is in the present day.

Cardboard was first made in 1856 – since 1903 it has been used for custom shipping boxes – a century of tailored shipping boxes.

Today, the average person in the UK will handle over 50 types of packaging every single day.

Shoppers will form impressions of a brand within seven seconds. Custom branded boxes and retail packaging with a positive brand image will help the conversion process.

52% of online shoppers, however, are more likely to purchase products again from the same company if the packaging is personalised.

Additionally, these consumers will spend an average of 30% more online if shipping is included for free.

Whereas consumers who shop instore are more likely to impulse buy a product without first researching it – your packaging could influence the decision over yours/a competitor’s product.

30% of businesses find that consumer interest rises when they pay attention to the details of their packaging

Following this, reports have demonstrated that inefficient packaging has caused 75% of these packaged products total net worth to be less than 6 million in the first year.

Recycling Tips

Up to 70% of our waste can be recycled or reused… read below for our top tips on how to recycle this Christmas.

Recycling bin filling up to quick? Save on space by dropping items at your local recycling centre on your way to work or dropping the kids off – follow Recycle Now to find your nearest recycling location.

Save more space by flattening cardboard boxes / containers.

Remove the bows and ribbons before recycling wrapping paper – flattening this into a nice neat pile will also save you additional space.

All food should be emptied from card, paper, glass and tins to eliminate the risk of the recycling being rejected, although, you don’t need to be overly thorough.

Any card or paper with glitter on should not be recycled.

Remember to do the scrunch test – not all types of wrapping paper can be recycled the easiest way to determine this is to do what is known as the scrunch test – it’s as simple as scrunching the wrapping paper in your hand, if the paper remains scrunched it’s recyclable but if it springs back it’s more than likely to be covered with a plastic film which can’t be recycled.

All plastic bottles can be recycled Inc shampoos / body wash etc.

Additionally, it’s not just cans and tins that can be recycled – most metallic items are also recyclable this includes empty deodorants and even kitchen foil.

Finally, make it easier for loved ones to recycle by wrapping your gifts in brown paper and jazz up with stamps / ribbons etc. alternatively you can source already 100% environmental friendly recycled wrapping paper from re-wrapped.

GWP’s Involvement with Recycling and the Environment

What the above facts highlight is that, whilst absolutely essential for getting your Christmas presents and goodies to you in one piece, great care must be taken to ensure that packaging does not end up in landfill.

At GWP, we aspire to be as actively involved with recycling and protecting the environment as possible as reflected in our ISO 14001/ ISO 14000 environmental management accreditations.

Christmas packaging facts
Try to remember your environmental impact when giving and receiving Christmas gifts this year

We demonstrate a proven track record in supporting the environment throughout all aspects of our business, maintaining environmentally friendly procedures.

We ensure that we help the environment throughout the design and manufacturing of bespoke packaging products and corrugated cardboard products, therefore, minimising our operational impact on the environment.

Alongside our ISO 14001 accreditation, GWP has also installed automatic waste collection in order to dynamically encourage a waste- free manufacturing and designing process.

We also use initiative to provide environmentally friendly designs such as our eco-bins and fully recyclable packaging.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

GWP Group also take a universal approach to sustainable packaging by reducing waste where possible by adhering to three main steps.

We actively seek new ways to reduce the extent of material that we use when designing and manufacturing our bespoke packaging and corrugated cardboard products.

We are constantly reviewing new applications for our range of reusable packaging products to reduce excess materials being produced.

And in terms of recycling, we aim to incorporate higher levels of recycled and renewable materials in all of our bespoke packaging designs whilst ensuring that our products are always as recyclable as possible.

We take pride in our environmental management systems in relation to our business; therefore we foster an integrated approach to protecting the environment with our products whilst still ensuring optimum levels of performance.

Ho Ho Ho...

Merry Christmas from everyone at GWP

With that, the only thing left to say is that from everyone here at GWP Group, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, and happy New Year.

We hope you enjoy the festivities!

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Matt Dobson, Marketing Manager at GWP Group

[email protected]
01793 754 444

About the Author: Matt Dobson

Marketing Manager | GWP Group

Matt has worked in the packaging industry for approximately 7 years, having joined GWP Group as Marketing Executive in 2012. [Read full bio…]

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