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Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 03:33 GMT
What a load of rubbish
Christmas presents
Paper and other wrappings are destined for the bin
Britain will produce about 2.25 million tonnes of festive rubbish this year, according to government estimates.

Over the Christmas period, home owners are predicted to fill 12.5 million dustbins, use 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper and get through 1,417 tonnes of aluminium foil.

The figures have been produced by the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions as part of its Are You Doing Your Bit? drive to increase recycling.

The 25m campaign is government funded and was set up after the Kyoto environmental summit three years ago.

Are You Doing Your Bit? promotes the environment through television advertising and has enlisted comedian Mark Lamarr, radio DJs Chris Evans and Zoe Ball, weatherman Ian McCaskill and boxer Lennox Lewis to help.

Michaela Strachan
Michaela Strachan: "We can all do our bit"
The Christmas campaign urges people to recycle wrapping paper, keep it for next year and to take seasonal extra bottles to the bottle bank.

It also suggests unwanted presents from well-meaning friends and relatives are given to charity shops or jumble sales rather then taking up room in the bin.

By reducing the level of disposed waste, less landfill space will be used.

Television presenter Michaela Strachan said: "It's amazing how much extra rubbish we produce at Christmas yet, with the tiniest bit of effort, we can all do our bit to help lessen the impact on the environment.

"Simple actions such as composting vegetable peelings can also make a big difference. And you'll be making your dustman's Christmas a happier one."

Some rubbish facts and figures:

  • the predicted 2.25 million tonnes is equivalent to 40kg for each person in the UK
  • this Christmas people will throw away 2.1 million aluminium cans, 33 million domestic batteries and use 270,000 tonnes of packaging
  • in one week, Britons produce enough rubbish to fill Wembley Stadium
  • Britain has one of the worst records of dealing with rubbish with 83% of waste going into landfill and 8% being recycled
  • Switzerland recycles 91% of all its glass bottles and 52% of all general waste, compared to Scotland's record of 5.7%
  • the Isle of Wight is the most environmentally conscious British council, recycling 41% of its rubbish
  • in October this year, a 62-year-old man was evicted after 16 tonnes of rubbish was cleared out of his council house
  • during the fuel crisis, rubbish collections in parts of Gloucestershire and the Vale of Glamorgan were cancelled as trucks had no petrol
  • the chemical, rubber and mineral product industries produce the most waste in Britain, totalling nine million tonnes every year
  • newspapers and magazines make up 33% of the national waste and plastics account for 11%.

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See also:

29 Nov 00 | Business
Spending on presents to rise
25 May 00 | UK Politics
Recycling levels 'pathetic' - Meacher
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