Climate change: how many turkeys worth of waste each Brummie produces at Christmas

Environment campaigners urge people to cut down on packaging at Christmas and recyle moreEnvironment campaigners urge people to cut down on packaging at Christmas and recyle more
Environment campaigners urge people to cut down on packaging at Christmas and recyle more | PA radar

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Environment campaigners are urging people to try to cut down on packaging

Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy is urging people across England to try and reduce their packaging waste ahead of Christmas, after figures showed a rise in the amount of household rubbish generated nationally in the first year of the pandemic.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs data shows Birmingham City Council collected an average of 355.2kg of household waste per person from homes in the area in 2020-21.

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However, that was down from 358.9kg the year before - but still the equivalent of around 89 family-sized turkeys for each resident.

The figures show that Brummies are less wasteful than the average person across England though – 420.6kg of household waste was collected per person nationally on average last year, compared to 407.3kg in 2019-20.

How much waste is generated on Christmas Day?

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said over 100,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated on Christmas Day across Great Britain, and 1 billion cards are thrown away.

She added: “We all have a part to play in making the changes that will limit global warming and stem the rising tide of plastic that is choking our oceans.

"We must do better.

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"Think about what you buy, what you consume and what you will do with the packaging waste that you create and make the right choices for our environment.”

Is any of this waste recycled?

Around 22% of household waste in Birmingham was sent for reuse, recycling or composting in 2020-21 – down from 24% in 2019-20.

Greenpeace said the considerable rise in national household waste is worrying, and that the figures likely underestimate the total volume of plastic thrown away.

Nina Schrank, senior campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said the coronavirus pandemic will have contributed, with people receiving more deliveries and disposing of more waste at home – but said too much packaging is sold already.

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She added: "At Christmas time we become even more aware of our rubbish as we pile up packaging and wrapping when we’re preparing food and opening presents.

"Seeing mountains of waste, especially masses of plastic, makes us feel very aware of the environmental impacts of our purchases."

What is the key to reducing this waste?

Resources and Waste Minister Jo Churchill said local authorities faced unprecedented challenges to keep rubbish collections running during the pandemic

She added: “Recycling and reusing more of our waste is key to helping us protect the environment for future generations.

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“Despite a highly challenging year, less than 8% of local authority collected waste went to landfill, while food waste recycling from households increased by 12%."

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