Sustainability

Sustainable Santa: can you recycle wrapping paper?

Go eco-friendly this Christmas and find out how to recycle wrapping paper to cut down on waste. Read our tips on recycling wrapping paper here.

One of the biggest parts of Christmas Day is getting to open presents. Whether you have a big pile from Father Christmas or just a few little pressies from your nearest and dearest, tearing through the paper is bound to be one of the best parts of the day. That is until you remember you have to clean up.

Wrapping paper can be easily discarded when you’re trying to get to the goodies beneath – but what happens to your wrapping paper afterwards? And can you recycle wrapping paper after it’s been used?

Can I Recycle Christmas Wrapping Paper?

The quick answer to this common question is: “sometimes”. Christmas wrapping paper is an essential part of the holiday celebrations, but it can’t always be recycled.

Some local councils do offer a collection service, or allow wrapping paper to be added to your normal recycling. Others prefer you to take it to your local recycling centre.

Some areas have no provision for recycling wrapping paper due to the way it’s constructed, at which point the only option is to home-recycle your discarded wrapping. You’ll need to phone your local services or look online to find out which option applies to you.

When is Wrapping Paper Recyclable?

Wrapping paper is harder to recycle when it’s very thin, laminated, or contains metal foil or glitter. Thin paper often doesn’t contain enough fibres to be gleaned from a processing machine, while laminated and foiled sheets contain elements which can’t be processed by common tools.

Wrapping paper made of a single, thick sheet of un-waxed paper is almost always recyclable. For full details of what can be recycled in your area, be sure to check with your council or local recycling centre.

How Can Christmas Wrapping Paper be Recycled at Home?

If you’re not able to recycle your wrapping paper at local facilities, there are plenty of new uses you can give it around your home instead.

Try these ideas before heading for the bin:

  • How to recycle wrapping paper with your pets: scrunched up wrapping paper can be a fun (temporary) toy for dogs and cats, providing it’s not foiled or glittered. You’ll need to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t eat it too. It can also be used to line the bottom of a bird cage, or used under shavings for guinea pigs and rabbits. Small animals like hamsters and rats will appreciate being given non-foiled paper to shred and use as bedding too.
  • Recycling wrapping paper as packaging: ever wondered Can wrapping paper be recycled as shredded paper or packaging?” The answer is “absolutely”! Most wrapping paper will go through a household shredder without too much trouble, and the result is a sparkly addition to any shipping or storage packaging you may need to do.
  • Reusing it next Christmas: with a little care, most good quality wrapping paper can be reused next Christmas. Reusing paper can encourage eco-friendliness, thriftiness, and the loving spirit of the season. For big families, try and get a tradition going to see who can recycle and exchange a sheet the most times!

How Can You Recycle Christmas Wrapping Paper for Arts and Crafts?

Non-commercially recyclable Christmas wrapping paper is a great arts and crafts resource. Foiled paper is often beautiful, and there’s no reason not to make the most of its sparkling good looks either by yourself, or with the help of kids.

Thin paper is ideal for use in colourful papier mache projects, and thicker, designer papers are great for cutting down and using in scrapbooks. Very thick paper can be used to make origami Christmas decorations, or glued to an old set of placemats and covered with polish to provide a fun table theme for next year.

How to Make Sure You Can Recycle Wrapping Paper

When you’re buying next year’s wrapping paper, you can try to reduce the environmental impact of your purchase by looking for paper made from recycled materials. Try also to avoid foiled and laminated papers, to make sure as much of it as possible can be recycled again.

When gathering paper for recycling, always make sure to remove all sticky tape, gift tags, and ribbons – as all of these can make life difficult at the recycling plant. A few moments of your time can save a few hours during processing.

And there you have it – recycling wrapping paper at Christmas really couldn’t be easier!

Top tip


Try to keep on top of the wrapping paper situation on Christmas Day. In all the excitement, you may feel like a party pooper going around folding, pressing, and bagging the discarded paper but it will be worth it in the long run!