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Can Gift Wrap Be Recycled? How to Tell

Can Gift Wrap Be Recycled? How to Tell

Landfills Shouldn’t Sparkle: Tips for Reducing Wrapping Waste this Season

‘Tis the season for gift giving. And many of those gifts will arrive swaddled in a sparkling array of wrapping paper, bows and ribbon—usually along with a gift tag and tape (and maybe even an outer box or mailing package to boot). And while it’s a beautiful thing to behold, that’s a lot of adornment for a one-time effect!

So how to make sure all that beauty doesn’t ultimately just end up as waste in the landfill?

Obviously, it should be recycled, of course! But wait. Is all wrapping paper recyclable? And if so, will your city, town or province accept it? According to recyclenow.com, different cities have different rules:

  • Some local authorities accept wrapping paper in home recycling collections.
  • Others ask for wrapping paper to be taken to the local recycling center.
  • Some do not collect wrapping paper at all because wrapping paper isn’t accepted by some recycled paper mills.

OK, so why wouldn’t wrapping paper be recyclable? Recyclenow.com lists the top three reasons:

  1. Dyed or laminated paper, or paper containing additives like gold- or silver-colored shapes, glitter, plastics, etc. can’t be recycled.
  2. Very thin wrapping paper usually doesn’t have enough good-quality fibers for recycling.
  3. Sticky tape still attached makes wrapping paper very difficult to recycle.

Top Tips:

  • Always remove any sticky tape and decorations before recycling your wrapping paper.
  • Take the handy scrunch test to tell if your paper is recyclable.
  • Consider using these fun, even more sustainable alternatives for decorating gifts!
Recycle Bin

Not sure whether your town or city recycles wrapping paper? Call to find out before putting it in the recycle bin.

comment_2Do you exchange gifts during the holidays? What unique ideas can you share for gift-wrapping that won’t contribute to the landfill? Our readers would love to know! Just leave a comment below.


Can wrapping paper be recycled?

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Kim Metzger
Kim Metzger(@kimetzger)
3 years ago

I know a family who uses the Sunday comics to wrap all presents. I use, and re-re-reuse gift bags.

3 years ago
Reply to  Kim Metzger

Thanks Kim, don’tcha love gift bags? I re-re-reuse them too!

3 years ago

I use the paper that comes in packages!!

Martha Watson
Martha Watson
3 years ago

My sister-in-law and I made cloth bags for reuse for years. We stopped, but could go back to it in a heartbeat!

Tanya Aoyagi
Tanya Aoyagi(@spokanegreenclean)
3 years ago

I just found out this year that our city does NOT recycle wrapping paper. Starting next year (since we’ve already wrapped presents this year), we are going to use brown craft paper to wrap all of our presents and add some fun with fabric ribbons and stamps!

3 years ago
Reply to  Tanya Aoyagi

Great idea, Tanya! That sounds like fun in addition to being Earth-friendly!

Jenna Miller
Jenna Miller(@jmiller)
3 years ago

We use norwex reusable grocery bags or produce bags and tissue paper to gift items.

Jeanette West
Jeanette West(@mrsjrwest)
3 years ago

We use mostly gift bags and keep them from year to year. Recently I started making cloth, reverse-able gift bags that cinch close with a drawstring. Generally one side is a solid color and the other side is either Christmas, birthday, or wedding/anniversary. These will be able to be used for many years, and often I am able to reuse fabric from old blankets, etc.

Amy Hepfner
Amy Hepfner(@amylmh)
3 years ago

When I was growing up we recycled wrapping paper all the time. Then when I got older I learned Korean Silk Scarf Wrapping. I went to thrift stores and bought pretty scarves and started wrapping gifts in them instead. The packages were very pretty and the scarf not only got new life as wrapping but was a nice extra gift for the recipient.

3 years ago
Reply to  Amy Hepfner

That’s such a beautiful idea! Thanks for sharing, Amy!

Dawn Raney
Dawn Raney(@draney01)
3 years ago

Aww man, I love sparkly packages, but it is SO wasteful. My hubby said that wrapping paper is not recyclable here, but I’m going to research that. I always feel such guilt when we put garbage bags of wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, tags, etc. out after our large family Christmas. Maybe this year we can do a contest for most creative, and LEAST wasteful, way to wrap our gifts. Great article!

1 year ago

I use flyers that come for free. And i started looking in thrift stores for green and red pillow cases to use over and over again