Mayor urges London to recycle & save millions of pounds this Christmas

24 December 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is calling on Londoners to boost recycling levels over the festive season, helping to protect the environment and save the capital around £4million in rubbish disposal costs.

The cost of sending just one black bin bag of waste to landfill or incineration costs 40-50 per cent more than recycling whilst also being far less environmentally-friendly. Over the Christmas season, London will produce an estimated extra 30,000 tonnes of household rubbish, including around 6,000 tonnes of food waste. Once the Christmas feasts have been consumed and the presents unwrapped, Londoners are expected to have devoured around 1.5million turkeys; used an estimated 2,000 tonnes of glass bottles and jars; and enough wrapping paper to cover the circumference of the equator (that’s 24,902 miles). 


Recycling this waste not only saves money but reduces carbon emissions too. For example if every additional wine and sherry bottle, mincemeat and cranberry sauce jar were recycled, London could save an estimated 630 tonnes of carbon, the equivalent to taking 195 cars off the road for a year. In addition by Twelfth Night, Londoners will be ready to discard an estimated one million Christmas trees and 75 tonnes of Christmas tree lights.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “If each one of us does our bit to recycle more over this festive season, we can help local authorities avoid hefty landfill charges and save money from the public purse. Every borough offers a range of recycling services, including for the capital’s forest of Christmas trees.”


It’s not just households that can make a difference, the Mayor is offering free support to London’s small and medium-sized food businesses to make tackling their food waste a New Year’s resolution. With support from the Mayor’s FoodSave programme, business are already making significant financial and food waste savings. Over 100 London businesses have signed up so far including Borough Market which is donating unsold bread and produce to charity. These businesses have prevented over 700 tonnes of food waste going to landfill and will save around £250,000 a year. 

The Greater London Authority will chip the iconic Trafalgar Square Christmas tree for recycling on Monday 5th January, and the chippings will be used as fertilizer.  

Every London borough offers advice and information on how to recycle over the festive season including Christmas tree disposal details. The dates that councils collect recycling from households may change over the festive period - council websites will provide more information on any changes. 

Notes to editors

•         Figures used in this release are sourced from WRAP (2013 Gatefees report), London Councils Local Authority waste services spend report (2014), Defra London waste statistics 2013/14, and

•         London currently recycles 34 per cent of its household rubbish and we estimate that 60 per cent of the average bin can be recycled. 

•         Last year London recycled 34% of waste collected from homes and businesses costing boroughs around £120 million. Disposing of London’s non-recycled waste to landfill or incineration cost £240million – twice as much as recycling.     

•         The Mayor’s FoodSave campaign has so far supported SMEs to reduce annual waste by 71 tonnes, diverted 780 tonnes of food waste from landfill annually, and made annual cost savings of £227,480.

•         FoodSave is funded by the Mayor of London, London Waste and Recycling Board and European Regional Development Fund 

•         Small and medium sized London restaurants, hotels, pubs, quick service restaurants and canteens interested in taking part in FoodSave should contact the SRA - [email protected] or call 020 7479 4224 [email protected]. The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is a national, not-for-profit membership organisation providing restaurants with expert sustainability advice through a team of specialist account managers.  Small and medium sized food retailers, markets, food manufacturers, wholesalers, wholesale markets and food growers interested in taking part in FoodSave should contact  FoodSave, contact Charlotte Jarman on [email protected] or 020 7065

•         Each month, the average family throws away almost £60 of good food that was bought but not eaten. Helpful hints and tips for reducing food waste at home are available at