With Christmas fast approaching, and many businesses and residents filling their homes and workspaces with Christmas trees, decorations and presents, it is evident that the festive period is a time for excess as we generate more waste than usual.
On average in the UK, over 108 million rolls of wrapping paper, 54 million platefuls of food, 100 million black bags filled with gift packaging and 189 million batteries are thrown away over Christmas. Based on these statistics alone, it is vital to be more mindful of how we dispose of waste and recycling during this time.
This festive season, Westminster City Council has launched a new campaign: ‘Christmas in Westminster’. The initiative highlights our renowned commercial waste services, as well as promotes recycling and waste reduction across the city. Westminster City Council and Veolia also worked in partnership with the Heart of London Business Alliance and New West End Company to create two art installations which emphasize the importance of sustainability and raise awareness over plastic consumption.
Find out more about the campaign and the art installations below.
Christmas in Westminster campaign
Known for its many special events (New Year’s Eve, Pride in London, Notting Hill Carnival etc) and tourist attractions, Westminster welcomes nearly one million people into the city on an average weekday, with even more over the festive period. With low recycling rates and collecting the most waste out of any London borough, Westminster City Council’s waste management services play a significant part in keeping the city clean. Last year we collected over 100 million plastic bottles from Westminster’s streets.
This year, our goal is to do better and promote the reduction of plastic consumption. With our ‘Christmas in Westminster’ campaign, our aim is to highlight Westminster City Council’s quality services throughout the festive period to help maintain clean streets and keep people safe, as well as promote recycling and waste reduction for both businesses and residents. We strongly encourage everyone to consider buying products with less packaging and improve the post-Christmas recycling rate of trees, decorations and wrapping paper.
The campaign will run for 6-10 weeks throughout the festive period and will include a ‘12 Days of Christmas’ social media campaign. Each day will provide an opportunity to champion different Westminster City Council services, campaigns, charities and accomplishments. This includes promoting the #DontBeIdle campaign, encouraging delivery drivers to turn off their engines, as well as showing support for initiatives such as The Hidden Network and Soho Angels.
Over the festive season, we want to help Westminster businesses and residents segregate more of their waste for recycling. Sometimes there is often confusion about what items can be recycled and how, which can lead to contaminated recycling and it cannot be processed. To help spread the positive message of recycling, this year, Veolia has transformed one of the City Council’s waste collection vehicles into a Christmas sleigh. We hope that businesses and residents across the city will be more conscious of their waste and recycling habits over the Christmas period.
The Westminster City Council staff choir (including Councillors, highway engineers, social workers, street sweepers) will also be putting on a show in December. The Christmas carols have been rewritten to promote Westminster City Council services and tap donation points that can be found across the city such as the Hart of London and The Giving Bear. These installations provide the opportunity to donate to several charities including The Hidden Network and St James’s Church charity.
The Giving Bear
When: On display until 6 January 2020
Where: Mount Street Gardens
In partnership with Veolia and supported by Westminster City Council, New West End Company (NWEC) has created ‘The Giving Bear’ project, a sustainable Christmas sculpture made from upcycled wood and 3,000 used milk bottles collected from local businesses and residents.
The goal of the polar bear sculpture is to educate visitors on the importance of sustainability during this festive season. Theinstallation also includes tap donation technology. The money raised will go directly to The Hidden Network, which aims to tackle homelessness in London. They provide supported accommodation, befriending services, mental health support as well as counselling for overcoming drug and alcohol addictions.
The story behind the polar bear
The polar bear is lost in London without a place to call home. Wandering through Westminster and Mayfair, the polar bear sees tourist sights and nervously navigates the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers.
As nighttime approaches, he lays down in Mount Street Gardens to sleep. In the morning, the polar bear wakes to find a present left by a small child just for him. To his surprise, the polar bear sees a group of helpers waiting for him, ready to find him shelter this Christmas. The story of the polar bear emphasises how valuable a small act of kindness is to someone in need this Christmas.
The Hart of London
When: On display until 3 January 2020 (08:00 – 18:30)
Where: St James’s Church Gardens
In partnership with Veolia and Westminster City Council, the Heart of London Business Alliance is bringing back the Hart of London Christmas sculpture. Designed by artist Faith Bebbington, the sculpture is made from 2,000 recycled plastic bottles collected from local businesses to raise awareness of our plastic consumption as we celebrate and enjoy the festive period. The installation features a tap donation point where the stag’s heart lights up once a fixed £3 donation has been made. The money will go toward the St James’s Church charity which offers night shelters for the homeless, support for asylum seekers and free counselling services.
What to do with your commercial waste over the 2019 Christmas period
The City Council’s commercial waste and recycling collections for businesses will operate as normal through the festive period, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
If you are planning on hosting office parties or business events, and expect to generate more waste and recycling than usual, you can order more commercial waste and recycling bags online.
If you are wondering how to dispose of your Christmas trees, they can be dropped off for free at one of our Christmas tree collection sites. It is important to make sure all decorations have been removed so the tree can be composted. If the tree is under 2 meters or if it is a plastic tree, you can also present it for your regular waste collection with a yellow cardboard sticker attached (these can be ordered online). Larger trees over 2 meters can be collected via a bulky waste collection at a discounted rate. Do not pay more for the collection of your tree than what it cost you.
For more on disposing of your waste and recycling over the festive period, see this article for more information or contact us.