Reusable Planet Blog: The War On Wrapping Paper

Date Posted:16 December 2022 

Is Wrapping Paper Recyclable? The Truth Might Surprise You… Australians use over 150,000km of wrapping paper at Christmas - enough to wrap around the planet nearly 4 times. So as Christmas draws closer, we look at the problem with wrapping paper, which wrapping paper is best and what alternatives there are.



How do you wrap your gifts? Wrapping Paper? Gift bags?

Once upon a time, gifts were wrapped in brown paper, newspaper or cloth. Not these days...

According to CARE Australia, in 2017 Australians used more than 150,000km of wrapping paper at Christmas time. That's enough to wrap around the planet nearly 4 times.

So as Christmas draws closer, we thought it was time to have a look at the problem with wrapping paper, which wrapping paper is best and what alternatives to wrapping paper there are...


kraft cardboard box with Reusable Planet logo and green bowCan Wrapping Paper Be Recycled?

It’s just paper, so wrapping paper can be recycled, right?

Unfortunately, much of it does not or cannot be recycled, and it ends up in landfill.

Coated paper, metallic paper or paper with glitter can't be recycled. Glitter is just microplastics, which permeate in the environment and stick around for centuries.

Wrapping paper is often full of inks and dyes, which makes it extra sludgy for recycling and requiring additional chemicals to process it, for less yield.

Fibres from cheap, thin wrapping paper are often not strong enough to be recycled.

So often, after the initial joy of ripping shiny, glittery paper off to reveal your present, all you're left with is a pretty pile of landfill waste.


It's just once a year, but consider these global stats we found:

  • In the UK, consumers use approximately 365 000km of wrapping paper each year - that's 108 million rolls, or around 50,000 trees.
  • People in the U.S. spent $12.7 billion on gift wrap, wrapping paper, tissue paper and gift bags in 2017
  • According to Zero Waste Canada, the average Canadian family throws out 25 – 45 per cent more rubbish over the holiday period, with wrapping paper and gift bags making up 500,000 tonnes of it!

What would Santa say?


So, What Can We Do Instead?

Furoshiki - Japanese art of cloth wrapping - blue cotton material with a gift tag attached with twine Here's our TOP TIPS for reducing gift wrapping waste this Christmas and all year round...

  • Save all those ribbons, bows and gift bags from the gifts you receive and reuse them again next year!
  • Use brown Kraft paper to wrap your gifts and decorate them with twine, fresh herbs and dried orange slices or flowers.
  • Try some Furoshiki - the traditional Japanese art of cloth wrapping. Google some easy - and impressive - ways to wrap using cloth. Plus, it’s reusable!
  • Reusable gift bags are more popular than ever, and there’s plenty of size and design options.
  • Kids' artwork! You know you’ve got plenty laying around. Instead of throwing them out, repurpose them as gift wrap for the grandparents' gifts - they’ll love it!
  • Gift an experience that doesn't require wrapping.
  • And… if you absolutely can’t avoid it, recycle it!


Recycling wrapping paper requires 70% less energy than making it from raw materials.

According to Eco Paper, every tonne of recycled paper can reduce water use by 60%, save 2.5 barrels of oil, 2.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases, 27 kgs of air pollutants, 4 cubic metres of landfill/waste and up to 17 trees.

So, if you must buy wrapping paper or gift bags, look for products you know are fully recyclable and preferably using FSC Certified paper, or recycled paper. That means no glitter or gloss - sorry.

Only put wrapping paper you receive in the recycle bin you know meets the recycling criteria.

Don't use plastic tape to wrap your gifts, use decorative paper washi tape or twine to tie your gift up, instead!

Save any unrecyclable paper for craft projects with the kids. Used wrapping paper makes a great colourful birthday banner – just cut out triangle diamonds and glue them over a string!


We hope this has given you some options for a less waste Christmas that won't cost the Earth!

Let us know your top tipsfor reducing waste or reusing wrapping paper in the comments.


Shop Reusable Planet's range of eco gift wrapping alternatives


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