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Because You Asked

Because You Asked: Is Wrapping Paper Recyclable?

By Recyclebank |

Gift wrap isn’t always recyclable, so here’s how to cut down on waste while still creating lovely gifts.

Dear Recyclebank: Is wrapping paper recyclable? –Gwen O.

Dear Gwen: This is a question that most folk ponder this time of year! Oftentimes, wrapping paper is recyclable as long as it doesn’t have any glitter on it, and isn’t metallic (both of which ultimately contaminate the other paper recyclables).

But as with many recyclables, it depends on where you live. For example, Philadelphia, Santa Monica, and Chicago accept wrapping paper and tissue paper in the curbside bin, but not if it’s metallic or glitter-covered. On the other hand, in Houston, TX, all wrapping paper has to go in the trash.

And while some recyclers do accept tissue paper for recycling, it is usually made from already-recycled paper, and the fibers are so short that they usually can’t be recycled into paper again. Some municipalities, such as San Francisco, recommend composting it instead.

The bottom line: Check your city’s recycling rules to see how you can dispose of all the different types of gift wrap this season.

And when you’re gearing up to give gifts, think of more earth-friendly alternatives to traditional wrapping paper. In lieu of wasteful single-use paper, here are some other ways you can present a gift:

  • Use scraps of colorful fabric, which can be used again and again.
  • Invest in reusable gift wrap.
  • Look for recycled paper gift wrap, so you know it has done some good for the environment.
  • Make reusable, pre-wrapped gift boxes.
  • Get creative by repurposing paper or other items you already have in the house as a wrapper. Old maps, newspaper, pages from a phone book, blueprints, pillowcases, or wallpaper samples could all be used to wrap a gift.

When you receive a gift in traditional wrapping, open it carefully so that you can keep the paper intact and unwrinkled to use again. Unsalvageable wrapping paper can be used for other purposes too: Wad it up to use as packing material to ship a package or pack up your holiday decorations, or get crafty with it by making a gift-wrap wreath or another craft project.

How do you cut down on wrapping paper waste during the holidays? Share your tips in the comments below.

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Barbara W. 1 day ago
    reused gift bags for me !. Unfortunately the print on our newspaper would rub off on items, eventually I quit taking the paper .
  • Fred & Ruth S. 2 days ago
    I reuse all gift, birthday, any and all, and my children make "cute" comments when they see the same holiday gift wrap paper year after year! I just cut down the wrapping paper where tape has been used and reuse the paper until it is so small that it can only be used for gift tags!
  • Patricia M. 3 days ago
    For years I've used the Sunday comics for wrapping and used remaining paper to cushion contents in packages. The stock market reports make for a good look when paired with red ribbon (Something else to reuse.) I have also used shredded documents as packaging material, however the crosscut documents go to my compost.
  • Susie C. 3 days ago
    I save old newspapers, especially the funnies and the colorful Holiday shopping inserts, and use them for my recyclable wrapping paper. I also request paper bags at the grocery store and use them to wrap gifts. They usually have Holiday designs this time of year. If not, I get out my crayons and markers and draw silly designs and pictures.
  • Meaghan F. 3 days ago
    I do still use wrapping paper for my younger nieces, but I reuse gift bags. I've also been saving my Trader Joe's bags so friends and family can take their presents home in those instead of my gift bags.
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