Category: Sustainability

Can You Recycle Paper Tape?

Can You Recycle Paper Tape?

I though I’d take a little time to answer the question, ‘can you recycle paper tape?’ It seems like a simple enough question, but the answer might surprise you…

You might have noticed that there is a growing trend for using paper tape, rather than the more common plastic tapes. I myself offer a range of paper tapes, which are, in theory, totally recyclable.

However, as with so many other eco-friendly products, the question of whether these tapes are actually recycled, is somewhat of a sticky issue…see what I did there? (I’m so sorry! haha)

This is because, despite paper tape having the potential to be 100% recyclable, most commercial recycling processes haven’t quite caught up with that potential yet. The recycling industry is a developing field, and while we might want (and need) the speed of a revolution; in truth, the process generally moves at more of an evolutionary pace.

Therefore, rather than, ‘can you recycle paper tape?’ The more apt question might be, ‘will my paper tape be recycled?’Recyclable paper tape on a gift wrapped present

Issues In The Commercial Recycling Process

Recycling facilities here in the UK have been developed with mechanical processes that separate sticky tape from paper and card. The paper products can then be recycled, while the plastic tapes are usually incinerated for energy recovery.

This process was put in place to counteract most people’s tendency not to bother removing plastic tapes, before placing paper items in the recycling. However, these separation processes were implemented before the growing popularity of paper tape emerged. Therefore, they were not designed to be able to distinguish between plastic tape and paper tape.removing plastic tape from a box

So, Will My Paper Tape Be Recycled Or Not?

Unfortunately, at present it is unlikely that the paper tape, which you place in your recycling, will actually get recycled. It will be reclaimed, along with the plastic tapes, to be most likely incinerated.

I understand that answer is probably disappointing, and might lead you to despondency. After all, what is the point of using paper tape if it won’t be recycled anyway? Well, I actually think there’s several good reasons to persevere!lots of rolls of paper tape on a wooden table.

Why Paper Tape Is Still The Best Choice

Firstly, as I mentioned earlier, recycling is very much a developing field. Commercial processes are evolving in order to improve the recyclability of as many products as possible. So, the more commonly used paper tape becomes, the more likely it is that recycling companies will develop machinery that can identify it. Once that happens, paper tapes will be left in the mix, with the rest of the paper and card, and will be recycled.

Secondly, even if for now, paper tapes are unlikely to be recycled, they are still a far more eco-friendly choice than their plastic counterparts. The incineration of natural, paper tapes produces less atmospheric pollution than that of plastic tapes. Paper tapes like mine are also biodegradable and compostable. This means that if they are placed in landfill, they will at least naturally biodegrade. Compare this to plastic tapes, which will sit in landfill for centuries.

Finally – and this one is important for me, as a gift wrap business – 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. This is especially true for the recycled stocks I offer in my shop. The only small gripe I have is that paper tape does tend to curl round on itself, when you’re cutting a long length. But, in my opinion, it is easy to accept that small issue, given all the other benefits.

Looking Ahead

I appreciate this has probably not been the answer you had hoped for – or possibly even expected – when I asked the question, ‘can you recycle paper tape?’

However, it is an open and honest answer, which also aims to reflect a high level of hope. Indeed, I anticipate being able to return to this post in the future, to update it with the news that paper tapes are being recycled.

The recycling industry is a growing, and innovative, field, with a heck of a big responsibility on its shoulders. The pace of change may be frustrating, but if we, as consumers, continue to make eco-friendly choices, then we push that change forward.

Take a look at my range of paper tapes, and see what you think.

ball of hemp cord and pair of scissors

Hemp: The Eco-Friendly Choice

Hemp, The Eco-Friendly Choice

You might have noticed that I’ve added some new hemp cords to the website this year.

In fact, I’ve always used hemp cord in my gift wrap sets. And, since last year, I have offered the option for all of my gift tags to be threaded with hemp cord too.

Hemptique Hemp Cord set - Emerald, next to a present wrapped in Wrapped By Alice paper and tied with cord from the set.

So, Why Hemp?

Why, you might ask, when there are so many natural cord and twine options available, have I plumped for hemp? Why not cotton baker’s twine, or jute twine?

The answer is simple – hemp is the most eco-friendly natural fibre around, and it also happens to produce the highest quality cord on the market.

Indeed, many other natural fibres – such as cotton – are actually harmful to the environment. It seems we have developed a tendency to treat the word, ‘natural’, as though it is interchangeable with, ‘eco-friendly’. However, this is often times not the case.

Businesses, in particular, bear a big responsibility for pushing the narrative that just because a product is natural, it is also kind to the environment. In the best case, this sort of marketing is a product of laziness, and a lack of research, and in the worst, it is simply profiting off a deliberate lie.

However, I’m here to say that, hemp has the credentials to back-up its eco-friendly status. Let’s take a look at the ways in which hemp is good for the environment.

image of hemp plant growing


The Eco-Friendly Benefits of Hemp

Water Requirements

Growing hemp requires less than a third of the water needed to grow cotton, and produces 220% more fibres – it’s a win-win.

water being poured into a metal bucket


Nearly all varieties of hemp are naturally resistant to pests, which means that pesticides need only be used sparingly, if at all. This means far less chemicals are being leached into the soil and waterways. It also means that hemp plantations provide safe habitats for pollinators, birds and small mammals.



Hemp grows rapidly; quickly covering the ground and leaving little to no room for weeds to grow. This rapid ground cover means that herbicides are not needed, which again prevents contamination of soil and waterways.


Soil Quality

Hemp is also great for soil quality. Not only does it have deep root systems, which stabilise the soil, it also requires very little nutrients or fertilizer to grow. Moreover, it puts a great deal of nutrients back into the soil, through decomposition of its leaves, once they fall.

hands holding soil


Carbon Emissions

Hemp production results in lower amounts of carbon emissions, when compared to other natural fibres, such as cotton. Meanwhile, the plant itself, with its bountiful lush green leaves, captures large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scientists estimate that for every ton of hemp grown, 1.63 tons of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere.


Hemptique Hemp Cords

You might have noticed that all my hemp cords are from the same company – Hemptique.

I have chosen to work with Hemptique for two reasons – their dedication to being an eco-friendly business, and the quality of the products they produce.



Eco-Friendly Materials

Hemptique is committed to using materials that are kind to the environment. Of course, there is the fair trade hemp, which they use to produce their cords. But they also ensure that the other materials in their manufacturing process are eco-friendly too.

For example, if you purchase one of the colourful hemp cord sets available on my site, you can rest assured that Hemptique have used only premium-quality, fibre-reactive, AZO-free dyes, to produce the vibrant colours featured. These are the most environmentally-friendly, man-made dyes available.

Another example, is the corn and potato starch mixture which Hemptique use to polish their cords. This mix is used in favour of alternatives, such as wax or chemicals, as it makes the cord more easily biodegradable.

lots of wooden spools


High-Quality Cords

It’s also worth noting that Hemptique produce cords not twines. What’s the difference? I hear you ask! Well, it’s a matter of quality – twines are made using fewer strands of fibre than cords, and may be uneven in thickness and have fly-aways. Cords, on the other hand, are round and even, without any loose fibres, and are also incredibly strong. Even the thinnest cord that I offer – at just 0.5mm in thickness – can hold up to 4.5kg / 10lb in weight! This property means that it can be reused many times.


The Best Choice for Gift Wrapping

Hemp cords provide the perfect gift wrapping alternative, not only to ribbon, but also to some seemingly eco-friendly alternatives, such as baker’s twine.

Combine hemp cord with my recycled papers, and recyclable tape, and you have the ultimate eco-friendly gift wrapping experience!

hemp cord - autumn nights set, with gift behind tied with grey hemp cord from the set.

Let’s hear it for hemp!

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!

Wrapped By Alice recycled logo