Britain is bracing itself for a huge recycling challenge this Christmas as online shopping increases.

Seasonal shoppers will cram more packaging than ever into their homes and according to new research, will be left with a whopping surplus they will be unable to recycle.

Last Christmas, Brits who shopped online bought an average of 20 gifts - with this trend showing no signs of stopping as the 2021 festive season enters full swing.

And that means UK homes will be forced to deal with an extra 954 million cardboard boxes this Christmas, with a staggering 248 million of those not being recycled.

That means an alarming 124,000 tonnes - the equivalent of almost 670,854 adult reindeers - risks ending up being stored in people’s homes, landfilled or incinerated, with the alternative of recycling all those extra boxes having the potential to be worth up to £12.8 million to local authorities.

New research from leading sustainable packaging provider DS Smith revealed the startling findings and Roger Gerritsen, Head of Recycling at the brand, said: “As more consumers do their Christmas shopping online, we’re expecting Brits to have even more cardboard than usual in their homes in the upcoming weeks.

“With research we did earlier in the year showing that nearly have of Brits (47%) were saying that their recycling facilities needed to be bigger, the situation over Christmas is only going to get worse.

“This means that consumers risk being being overwhelmed with packaging and having too much to recycle, leading them to put their boxes in the wrong bin or store them in garages as their recycling bins fill up too fast.

“We know this situation is not restricted to the festive period, but it does emphasise the need that we urgently need to look at how we can improve recycling infrastructures and increase our recycling rates.

“Consumers can help by flat packing their boxes to get more into their recycling bins, as well as taking boxes they can’t fit into their own recycling bins to local recycling centres.”

Based on trends identified in DS Smiths Tipping Point Report, the UK is set to meet the 65% municipal recycling rate for 2035 over decade too late.

And to help get recycling rate back on track, investment is needed to create a consistent recycling infrastructure that has separate collections at the very heart of it – specifically separate collections for paper and cardboard.

Gerritsen added: “Brands have another big part to play in this equation too.

“It’s incredibly important that consumers are given the information they need to recycle properly, and our research shows that many people are confused about what can and can’t be recycled. 

“If we are going to ensure future Christmases are green, then the whole sector needs to collaborate to make sure that households have clarity about what goes in recycling bins.”