“FESTIVE shoppers need to think outside the box.”

This is the message from Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) this week, who are encouraging residents to buy Christmas presents not delivered in cardboard boxes.

They are asking people to consider buying vouchers, digital subscriptions or memberships – presents that don’t use excessive packaging.

Although cardboard is regularly recycled, the production and collection of the material has a financial and carbon cost, as well as putting a strain on collection crews.

Last year, kerbside collections picked up 12,223 tonnes of cardboard and in April, May and June this year, there was a 24 per cent jump in cardboard collection – and extra 650 tonnes.

Mickey Green, managing director of SWP, said: “This isn’t about telling people what they should and shouldn’t buy, it’s just encouraging people to consider some different options.

“Buying experiences rather than ‘stuff’ keeps the packaging down and can make very special gifts, especially when we all need something to look forward to in the New Year.

“And if you can buy local and help businesses in your own community, so much the better.”

SWP are also encouraging people who have a lot of cardboard waste and excess wrapping paper during Christmas to head to recycling sites, as collections are disrupted by the festive holidays.

“Please use real wrapping paper wherever possible, putting it in the correct recycling box after use or, even better, keeping what you can to reuse next year,” said a SWP spokesperson.

“Glittered, plastic or metallic wrapping cannot be recycled so put it straight into your rubbish.

“If you have lots of wrapping paper, you can take it to a recycling site - do not put it in the cardboard skips, there will be special drop-off point at all sites.”

Recycling sites are open during their usual winter hours apart from on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.