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How to Recycle or Reuse your Wrapping Paper this Christmas

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There’s something so thrilling about picking out gifts at Christmas, wrapping them in colourful paper and fancy ribbons, and adorning them with sparkle and glitter to gift to family and friends. But what happens to all of that paper once gifts have been opened? Before you attempt to recycle wrapping paper this year remember that not all wrapping paper is recyclable, especially if it’s decorated with glitter, glue, and bows.

During the Christmas season, Australians use the equivalent of 50,000 trees worth of wrapping paper! According to CARE, this equates to more than 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper, enough to wrap around the Earth’s equator nearly four times.

Producing a week’s worth of waste to celebrate a single holiday is simply not sustainable, so it’s on us to start making adjustments and start recycling and reusing as much as possible. All it takes is a little ingenuity and craftiness to find ways for repurposing or recycling your excess wrapping paper.

How will you reuse or recycle wrapping paper this Christmas?

Here are some ideas:

  • Remove any adhesive tape and decorations like ribbons and bows before putting in the recycling bin, as these cannot be recycled
  • According to RecycleNow, you should do a “scrunch test” on your paper to determine whether it’s recyclable or not. Simply scrunch the wrapping paper in a ball; if it stays that way, it can be recycled, if it unfolds on its own, it goes in the regular bin
  • Foil, laminated, or glitter-decorated paper cannot be recycled and must be discarded in general waste
  • Wrapping paper with a glossy and reflective surface is more likely to end up in a landfill. As the shiny wrappers are constructed using Mylar, a plastic film covered with aluminium
  • There is often some misunderstanding about cellophane wrapping — as some are plastic, while others are cellulose. Perform a ‘tear test’; if it can be torn, it’s made from cellulose and can be thrown in the compost, and if it stretches, it’s made of plastic
  • Keep and reuse gift bags next Christmas. Reusing gift bags saves the trees, but also saves you money!
  • If you can’t reuse or recycle wrapping paper, try shredding it into confetti. Shredded colourful paper makes for great party decorations!
  • Hot tip: recycle wrapping paper by using it to wrap and store your precious Christmas ornaments, store delicate glassware, protect your favourite dishes, or even save for your next move!
  • Whatever you do, do not burn wrapping paper as it contains plastic and dyes, which emit toxic fumes into the environment

There are several eco-friendly ways to wrap gifts without contaminating your recycling bin or sending unwanted rubbish to landfill. Even biodegradable and recyclable wrapping paper adds up and costs the environment, so think about how you can reuse and recycle wrapping paper, or gift bags before purchasing new ones.

Fact: According to Greenpeace, 1kg of wrapping paper emits more than 3kg of CO2 emissions throughout its manufacturing process, due to the 1.3kg of coal needed to manufacture it.

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