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Is Wrapping Paper Recyclable? How Is It Properly Disposed?

gifts wrapped in green polka dots wrapper

Many people celebrate every birthday and Christmas with plenty of presents — which can quickly lead to several garbage bags filled with wrapping paper. You might be wondering if it’s recyclable and how to properly dispose of it. Fortunately, most types of wrapping paper are recyclable, but keep reading as we explain what to look out for so you can be better informed.

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Is My Wrapping Paper Recyclable?

gift wrapped
Image By: congerdesign, Pixabay

If it’s standard paper, most wrapping paper is recyclable, even if it has colors or designs. You can also recycle glossy paper in most cases. However, if there are other things on the paper, like ribbons, bows, or tape, you will need to remove these before you recycle the paper. If the wrapping paper contains glitter or another contaminant that you can’t completely remove, you can’t recycle it. You also can’t throw any metallic or foil wrapping paper into the paper recycling bin.

How Can I Recycle My Wrapping Paper?

Since most paper wrapping paper is biodegradable, you can throw it in the trash, and it will naturally break down over time. Many municipalities will also collect paper as part of their curbside recycling program, especially if you have a green recycling can. You can also contact your local recycling center to see if it will accept your paper at one of its locations.

Other Wrapping Paper Tips & Tricks

  • Crumple up the wrapping paper. If it stays in a ball, you can probably recycle it, but if it opens back up, it’s likely not recyclable.
  • Save your discarded wrapping paper as packing material instead of foam peanuts, which are much more difficult to recycle.
  • Use non-glossy, plain wrapping paper as brown material in your home compost pile. Composting also works well with tissue-type wrapping paper.
  • Try to reuse wrapping paper if you can. While children will often tear open the presents quickly, adults are usually slower and more careful, which can provide more paper that you can use again.
  • When making a purchase, always choose plain wrapping paper that doesn’t have any glitter or laminate. Plain paper is easier to reuse and recycle. You can spruce it up with reusable decorative bows.
  • Try wrapping your presents with reusable fabric, or place your gift in a box or basket. A scarf, towel, or tote bag can work great to conceal your present. In some cases, it can even be part of the gift!
  • Using newspapers to wrap your gifts is a way to recycle another kind of paper.
  • Japanese Furoshiki is a traditional way of wrapping gifts that uses ornamentally tied fabric. The cloth will usually have a scene (which can be hand-painted) that depicts the occasion and can be worth saving to remember the event.
  • Use your old wrapping paper to make origami that you can place around your home for decoration.

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Fortunately, most of the wrapping paper that we use during the holidays is recyclable and biodegradable, which means you can put it in any paper recycling bin or even in the regular trash if you can’t find a way to reuse it. Remove any tape, bows, stickers, etc., before you recycle, and avoid purchasing metallic or foil wrapping paper and any brands with glitter, which are not recyclable. Consider using fabric, boxes, baskets, or even old newspapers as an alternative to wrapping paper to reduce waste further.

Featured Image Credit: Efraimstochter, Pixabay


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