Isn’t all wrapping paper recyclable?

‘Can wrapping paper be recycled?’ is a commonly asked question.

Unfortunately, Christmas wrapping paper is often dyed, printed, laminated and/or contains non-paper-based additions (which can include glitter and plastic elements) which can’t be recycled.

Can I recycle my Christmas wrapping paper?

The good news is that the cheaper wrapping papers are often among the easier to recycle.

Use the ‘scrunch test’ to help determine if your wrapping paper is recyclable. If you can scrunch it up into a ball and it stays that way, it’s likely that it can be recycled. If it starts to expand/unravel, sadly it’s much less likely.

If the wrapping paper is clearly ‘metallic’ or coated (often plastic) in some way, or covered in glitter, it probably can’t be recycled either.

And, whatever you do, before recycling any wrapping paper, ALWAYS remove any plastic sticky tape, ribbons and bows (and reuse anything you can next time while aiming not to buy any more) that can’t be recycled.

On the subject of tape, we recommend using paper tape as it’s plastic free, biodegradable and generally home compostable. When you are next buying wrapping paper, consider opting for paper that is both made from recycled paper and is recyclable.

What are the alternatives?

  • Buy recyclable wrapping paper
    From traditional brown paper (think Postman Pat) to more eye-catching kraft paper options, recyclable wrapping paper is generally biodegradable and home compostable. Ideally, look for one that is also made from recycled paper, is sold unwrapped or minimally packaged, is sustainably sourced (FSC or similar) and clearly labelled as recyclable. In the UK, we have seen a major improvement this year, with retailers ranging from high street giants M&S and John Lewis to leading supermarkets having more sustainable products more widely available than in recent years.
  • Make your own wrapping paper and gift bags
    Whether you choose old newspaper/magazines or unwanted fabric, scraps of paper or recycled paper that the kids can decorate themselves, get creative!
  • Reuse
    Save and reuse your wrapping paper, including any you receive. The same goes for gift bags, bows, boxes and so on. And recycle, home compost and dispose of anything you can’t repurpose.
  • Avoid using wrapping paper altogether
    Use reusable sacks or bags (not necessarily Christmassy) and avoid wrapping gifts entirely. It’s a more extreme option so won’t suit everyone.

Happy wrapping, and merry Christmas!

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