Once all the excitement subsides on Christmas morning, the daunting task of wrangling up mounds of wrapping paper becomes an immediate priority. That festive waste has to go somewhere, and more often than not, it ends up in landfill thanks to all the additional glitter, gloss, and sparkly decals. Add to that the mounds of sellotape still stuck to the sides and you end up in a bit of an environmental pickle. So what wrapping paper is recyclable, and how do you recycle it?
You’d think that since it’s paper that all gift wrap is recyclable. Turns out it’s not so simple. “It’s a nightmare for paper mills this time of year,” Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association told BBC News. “Not all wrapping paper is paper.” As pretty as glitter and sequins are, they can’t be recycled and that wrapping paper ends up in general waste instead.
And even if you’ve got eco-friendly paper, some councils don’t accept it in their recycling collection as “wrapping paper is not accepted by some recycled paper mills,” as Recycle Now writes. In that case, you’ll need to head down to your local recycling centre which you can find through Recycle Now.
The national recycling campaign also notes that “some wrapping paper is very thin and contains few good quality fibres for recycling,” along with some being dyed and laminated. The same goes for thin paper wrap, and as Recycle Now points out that and wrapping paper “can only be recycled if it passes the scrunch test. Basically, if it stays in a ball, you can put it in the recycling — as long as the tape has been removed and there’s no glitter or plastic glued on to it.
So what are your options when it comes to eco-friendly paper? Most stores offer an array of choices, but it essentially comes down to double-checking that whichever you choose ticks all the right boxes. “It’s a crusade we’ve been on all year,” Ellin added. “[D]o you really need to design a non-paper wrapping paper? Make paper with recycling in mind!”
Stores like John Lewis, Paperchase, WH Smith, and speciality online stores like Re-wrapped offer a vast arrange of festive designs that don’t need the additional sprinkling of glitter or other non-recyclable materials.