Category: Recycling

recyclable wrapping paper. Rolled sheets of wrapped by alice paper, with pugs, frenchies and cats.

Can You Recycle Wrapping Paper?

Can Your Recycle Wrapping Paper?

The short answer to the question, ‘can you recycle wrapping paper’, is, ‘yes’!

However, the long answer is rather more complicated. Here are some tips to help you decide whether or not you can recycle your wrapping paper.

Did You Buy Your Wrapping Paper From Wrapped By Alice?

Now, here is where it’s really simple; if you bought your paper from me, then you can recycle it – all my papers are 100% recyclable. Just pop it in with your other paper and card recycling; job done!

recycled wrapping paper on shelving

What Are Other Wrapping Papers Actually Made From?

Often, wrapping paper hides additional substances, such as plastic and metallic particles – I’m looking at you glitter and foil! Any wrapping paper which is glittery or foiled is a mixed product and can therefore not be recycled. The same applies to glossy, laminated wrapping papers, as their sheen is created by coating the paper with a plastic film. Heavily dyed papers are also not recyclable, as they leach their colour during the pulping process.

You’re pretty sure your gift wrap passes all the above tests, and is just paper – plain and simple? Off to the recycling bin you go…but wait; it still might not be recyclable. Thin, poor quality wrapping paper (you know the type a lot of places sell very cheaply, on long rolls) is probably not suitable for recycling. This is because, although paper can be recycled numerous times (generally, up to 7 times), in order for it to be suitable it has to contain a high number of long, quality fibres; something which these cheaper papers do not.

All my wrapping papers are made from high quality, recycled, uncoated and undyed paper stocks, so you won’t face any of these barriers to recycling.

The ‘Scrunch Test’

If all this information is a bit overwhelming, and you don’t know what the hell your wrapping paper is made of, then the simple ‘scrunch test’ is probably your best bet – scrunch your wrapping paper in your hand; does it stay scrunched up? If it does, then it can more than likely be recycled. If it starts to expand back out again, it probably contains plastic and can therefore not be recycled.

Other Sticky Issues

So, we think we’ve finally got to grips with the question of, can you recycle wrapping paper. But now what about all the extras that can come with a gift wrapped present?

drawer full of stickers and gift tags

First off, remove any ribbon or twine – these definitely can’t be recycled with your paper. However, the hemp twine which I include in all my gift wrap sets, can be reused over and over again, and will also naturally biodegrade, so, all is not lost!

So finally, we come to the sticky issue of tape. And this is where it gets really complicated and contradictory – what fun!

Here in the UK we are advised to remove all sticky tape from wrapping paper (and all other paper and card items) before putting them in our recycling; some local authorities even have a blanket ban on wrapping paper, because of this issue.

However, our recycling facilities do have mechanical processes to separate sticky tape from paper and card. As I understand it, it is only a huge amount of tape, e.g. a box almost entirely coated in packing tape, that would cause issues. Therefore, best practice is probably to remove as much plastic tape as you can before putting your paper in the recycling.

What About Paper Tape?

There is a growing trend for using paper tape, rather than the common plastic tapes. I myself offer a range of paper tapes, which are completely recyclable; this means you can leave the tape on your paper and card, and, in theory, it will all be recycled together.

However you might wonder, what is the point of such tapes, if the machinery at recycling centres is designed to separate it out anyway? Surely it won’t be recycled?

Well, firstly, the more commonly used this tape becomes, the more likely it is that the recycling companies will develop machinery that can identify these paper tapes and leave them in the mix to be recycled.

Secondly, my paper tapes are a natural, biodegradable and compostable product. This means that even if they are removed from the recycling chain and placed in land fill, they will at least naturally biodegrade. Compare this to the plastic tape that will sit in landfill for centuries. Equally, if the tape is incinerated, it is better for it to be paper, rather than plastic.

And finally, I think that paper tape is actually a superior product. It is much more durable than plastic tape, and adheres much more successfully to paper and card, especially to the recycled stocks I offer in my shop. The only small gripe I have is that it does tend to curl round on itself if cutting a long length; but I can accept that small issue, given all the other benefits.

In Conclusion

Apologies my friends, for such a complicated answer to the simple question of, can you recycle wrapping paper! But it seems, at least for now, if we’re going to successfully recycle as much as possible, then we need to educate ourselves on how to properly prepare items for recycling.

As an example, my local authority banned Christmas wrapping paper and Christmas cards from recycling collections this past festive season; this was due to the issues mentioned above ( Christmas t’is the season of glitter and sparkle, after all)! However, I knew my paper didn’t contain any of these extras, and so I still placed it in the recycling, defying the ban, because I knew that it could be recycled.

So, arm yourself with as much information as possible, and get recycling, folks!

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