Christmas gift waste expected to top $900 million

Christmas gift waste

More than six million Australians expect to receive presents they will not use or wear and the bulk of these unwanted gifts are destined for landfill, new Australia Institute research shows. 

Nearly a third of the people surveyed expect to receive Christmas presents that will go to waste, valued at an estimated $921 million.

“Most of us love buying gifts for our loved ones, but 275,000 tonnes of them – or $921 million worth – are set to go unused or unworn,” said Nina Gbor, Director of the Waste & Circular Economy program at the Australia Institute.

“The bulk of these unused presents are destined for landfill, wasting money, and adding to plastic pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis.

“But nearly half of us would rather not receive presents at all, suggesting it’s time to shake up our spending habits this Christmas.”

Key findings:

  • Nine in 10 (89 per cent) of people receive presents while 30 per cent, or about 6.1 million adults, expected to receive gifts they will not use or wear.
  • This Christmas waste represents a value of $921 million.
  • Nearly half (48 per cent) would rather people not buy them gifts at Christmas.
  • Most people (78 per cent) like buying Christmas gifts for others.
  • When buying for others, 46 per cent say they do not think about how those gifts will be eventually disposed of.
  • Three in five (59 per cent) agree it is better for the economy when people buy fewer things that go unused.
  • Three in five (61 per cent) had a Christmas tree last year and, of those, 85 per cent intended to reuse it.

“Gifting experiences, homemade presents, gift cards or donations in someone’s name are great alternatives to presents that would otherwise gather dust or go to waste,” Gbor said.

“Buying fewer presents and focusing on quality over quantity does not just help save the environment, it also spares our wallets during the cost-of-living crisis.”

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