Christmas is by far the most wasteful time of the year - 30 per cent more than any other day.

Crackers especially bring up a huge environmental issue as they are often filled with tiny pointless plastic toys that are probably going to be thrown away once the Christmas dinner is over.

John Lewis and Waitrose have announced they are removing their plastic-filled crackers from their shelves from 2020 on.

But how to choose the best crackers this year?

VoucherCodes.co.uk have analysed the sustainability of the most popular Christmas crackers… and the results are not positive. 

Friends of the Earth lead plastic campaigner, Julian Kirby, said: “Christmas crackers come with excess packaging that can’t always be recycled, as well as a lot of single-use tat, so this is one festive product you should think twice about. There are a number of things you might want to look into when buying your crackers, including whether toys come in plastic wrappers, whether they contain microplastic glitter and if they have novelty toys that will end up in landfill.”

Assessing options from a range of retailers, the research found the majority include more harmful elements than good. While there was no stand-out winner, Tesco’s Gold Cube Christmas Crackers included no notable "good" points and are instead filled with plastic in both the packaging and the contents.

Weighing up the analysis, Julian said: “John Lewis and Partners, Debenhams, Liberty, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose and Partners' crackers contain longer-lasting toys, but they’re let down by the plastic packets they come in.

“We know Waitrose is working towards plastic-free crackers for 2020 so we look forward to seeing that next year.

“And, while Sainsbury’s limit waste by removing the plastic window on its Home Luxury Cracker box, the crackers themselves are covered in glitter, which is a microplastic that can be harmful to the environment.”

If you really want to stick to the crackers tradition, one option might be to make them yourselves, and fill them with eco-friendly toys or chocolates.

But if this is not an option, here are some tips when it comes to choosing store-bought crackers.

Top tips when choosing your crackers for a more sustainable Christmas

     
  • Does the packaging contain an unnecessary plastic window?
    Generally, the plastic windows on the front of packaging tend not to be recyclable, and for those that are, you can’t guarantee they won’t just be sent to landfill.
       
  • Check your local council’s recycling guidelines.
    Each council has different policies when it comes to what they will and won’t recycle, so double check what will be picked up in your local area.
       
  • Opt for paper crackers rather than those decorated with glitter.
    It is a microplastic that is easily released into the environment, so should be avoided as it does not biodegrade and can be harmful to wildlife.
       
  • Is the packaging made of recycled material?
    Using recycled card limits further deforestation.
       
  • Does the packaging have an FSC logo on it?
    This symbol means the materials are sourced from a forest that meets the required management practices and forest stewardship standard for sustainability.
       
  • Are the toys multi-use or are they going to be thrown away after the meal?
    A metal keyring, for example, is far more likely to be used rather than a novelty plastic moustache that ends up in the bin – and all items should be loose within the crackers, rather than in plastic packets.
       
  • Do I need to order the crackers online?
    Getting items delivered creates further packaging, such as unnecessarily large cardboard boxes and bubble wrap. Collecting direct from the store means you can ditch the excess, single-use materials and either carry them home in a bag-for-life or, even better, just the packaging they come in.