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How Is Wrapping Paper Recyclable – Eco Guide

In the United States, an estimated 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags are thrown away each year. Most of this waste ends up in landfills, where it takes up valuable space and emits methane gas as it decomposes.

The festive Season is here, and many of us wonder what gifts we will give our loved ones. We also start to think about the wrapping paper we will need to buy to wrap those gifts.

However, have you ever thought about how much wrapping paper you end up using? And what happens to all of that wrapping paper after the gifts are opened? Is wrapping paper recyclable? Relax! This post covers everything you should know and keep your environment tidy.

Is Wrapping Paper Recyclable?

Most wrapping paper is not recyclable because of plastic, foil, or glitter. These types are hard to recycle.

However, some types of wrapping paper are recyclable. If you’re not sure whether your wrapping paper is recyclable, check with your local recycling center.

Best Ways to Recycle Wrapping Paper

  • The most common type of recyclable wrapping paper is paperboard. Paperboard is a type of paper made from recycled paper. It is often used to make cereal boxes and egg cartons.
  • Brown paper: Brown paper is often for wrapping gifts and is recyclable.
  • Kraft paper: Kraft is made from recycleable wood pulp .
  • Plain wrapping paper
  • Glossy wrapping paper; especially the ones that undergo scrunch test).

Non-Recyclable Wrapping Paper

Some common examples include:

  • Foil-lined paper: Foil-backed paper is for wrapping food, as it helps to keep the food fresh.
  • Wax paper: Waxed paper is for wrapping delicate items, as it helps to protect them from damage. So it is moisture-resistant.
  • Glittery paper: Glittery paper is often used for decorative purposes, as it can add a bit of sparkle to a gift.
  • Plastic-coated paper: Plastic-coated paper is for wrapping gifts, as it is more durable than regular paper.
  • Metallic wrapping paper.

These papers are difficult to recycle and often end up in landfill, where they will take up space and potentially release harmful chemicals into the environment. The best way to recycle wrapping paper is to reuse it.

How To Recycle Wrapping Paper

1. One way to recycle wrapping paper is to save it and reuse it. This requires a little effort but can be a great way to save money and reduce waste. Be sure to use paper in good condition, without too much tape or other damage. Once you have a stockpile of paper, you can use it for future gifts. Here are a few tips on how to reuse wrapping paper:

  • Remove all tape and ribbon.
  • Fold the paper into a manageable stack.
  • Cut it into strips about 1-2 inches wide.
  • Roll the strips of paper into tight coils.
  • Tie the paper coils together with a string or ribbon.
  • Hang the paper coils on a clothesline or drying rack.
  • Allow it to dry completely.
  • Once dry, you can use the paper to wrap gifts again.

2. Another way to recycle wrapping paper is to donate it. Many organizations accept donations of wrapping paper, and it is a great way to help others while reducing waste. Be sure to check with your local organizations to see if they accept donations of wrapping paper.

If you can’t recycle your wrapping paper, don’t throw it in your regular trash. See if a local school or daycare would like to use it for arts and crafts projects. You can also use it to ship items.

Sustainable Alternatives To Reduce Wrapping Paper Waste

More and more people are becoming aware of the wastefulness of traditional wrapping paper. Every year, millions of tons of wrapping paper are produced, and a large percentage ends up in the trash. Fortunately, there are sustainable alternatives that can help reduce the wastefulness of this holiday tradition.

1. Fabric Wrap: Fabric Wrap is one of the sustainable alternatives to wrapping paper. It contains various materials, including old clothes, towels, and tablecloths. You can reuse these materials because they’re more aesthetically pleasing than traditional wrapping paper.

2. Newspaper or Brown Paper Bags: Another sustainable alternative is to use newspaper or brown paper bags. These materials are recyclable and inexpensive. You can dress them up with ribbons, stamps, or other embellishments to make them look more festive.

3. Reusable Gift Bags: One way to reduce the amount of wrapping paper waste is to use reusable gift bags. They are reusable; you don’t have to buy new wrapping paper every time. Additionally, reusable gift bags are sustainable materials that won’t end up in landfills.

So, this holiday season, consider using reusable gift bags as a sustainable alternative to reduce wrapping paper waste. Your loved ones will appreciate the thoughtfulness of your gifts, and you’ll feel good knowing you’re doing your part to reduce waste.

4. Baskets: Baskets are ideal for putting gifts, from food to clothes to beauty products. They are natural materials and biodegradable.

Not only are baskets better for the environment, but they can also add a personal touch to a gift. You can add decorations to match the items the recipient will love. So next time you are looking for a way to reduce wrapping paper waste, consider using baskets. They are a great alternative that will help you save money and the environment.

5. Clay Flower Pot: You can also reduce wrapping paper waste this holiday season with a clay flower pot. There are a few benefits to using a flower pot to wrap your presents:

  • First, it’s reusable and a great way to add a personal touch to your gifts.
  • It helps decrease your paper waste.

To use a flower pot to wrap your presents, place your gift inside and then cover it with tissue paper or another type of paper. You can then decorate it with ribbons, bows, or other items. If you’re worried about the pot being too heavy, you can always add a bit of padding to the bottom.

6. Glass Jars: Glass jars are a great alternative to wrapping paper. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but they also add a touch of elegance to any gift. Choose a jar that coordinates with the gift theme and fill it with small items your recipient will love. Add a handwritten note for a personal touch.

Whatever option you choose, avoid using non-recyclable wrapping paper or shopping bags and use these sustainable alternatives to wrapping paper. They can help reduce waste and protect the environment.


While most wrapping paper is recyclable, some types are not. You can recycle wrapping paper if it is 100% paper. If you are unsure if your wrapping paper is recyclable, it is best to check with your local recycling center.

However, some alternatives to traditional wrapping paper are more eco-friendly. You can use old newspapers/magazines, fabric, or recycled paper bags. These options are often more affordable than buying new wrapping paper, and they can be just as effective at protecting your gifts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is wrapping paper compostable?

Yes, wrapping paper is compostable.

What is wrapping paper recycled into?

Recycling centers recycle wrapping paper into paperboard, toilet tissue, paper towels, cartons, grocery bags, and greeting cards.

What if the recycling facility where I live does not accept wrapping paper?

You can find a local recycling center that will accept it, or you can try to find a home or business that will shred the wrapping paper for you.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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