Recycling expert warns against common Christmas wrapping paper mistakes

Here's why we're embracing brown paper packages tied up with string

A recycling expert has revealed some common mistakes we make with our festive wrapping paper. Samantha Jones from MyJobQuote is here to tell us how to make sure our gift wrapping ideas for Christmas presents are eco-friendly.

Unforuntately, you can't recycle wrapping paper in most areas, and sticky tape left on boxes and paper poses a problem, too.

christmas gift wrapped in brown paper tied up with string, with paper stars and holly placed beside it

(Image credit: Ginger Ray)

Not removing sticky tape

'Recycling properly and efficiently can be difficult,' Samantha admits, 'as the rules for recycling can be confusing.' The first mistake she mentions is leaving sellotape on any used wrapping paper.

The recycling expert from MyJobQuote (opens in new tab) warns that if you don't remove the sellotape from used cardboard packing or from paper, it will become unrecyclable. Any wrapping paper or boxes with tape left on will end up in landfill, she says.

Sticky tape is usually made of polypropylene, a type of plastic, which is not recyclable. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives, like tapes made of bamboo and hemp, which are biodegradable.

Christmas presents wrapped in brown wrapping paper with santa tags and red ribbons, with a few branches and baubles visible to show they are under a Christmas tree

(Image credit: The Naughty Shrew)

There's also 100% recyclable brown paper tape available at Amazon (opens in new tab). Generally speaking, these eco tapes can be left on the packaging before recycling, but if you're in any doubt, it's best to remove them.

Trying to recycle glittery, laminated wrapping paper

In most areas, you can't recycle wrapping paper. If you 'wish cycle' your wrapping paper and put it in with your recycling anyway, it could affect the entire contents of your bin.

'Wrapping paper is often dyed and laminated and can also contain glitter and plastics, which simply can’t be recycled,' Samantha explains. 'Other wrapping paper is very thin and doesn’t contain enough fibres for recycling.'

wrapping christmas presents in brown paper and velvet ribbon, with two wrapped and boxes waiting to be wrapped

(Image credit: Loaf)

Swap brightly coloured and glittery paper for brown paper for a more eco-friendly Christmas. Brown paper can easily be recycled - as long as there's no ink on the paper.

You could also use gift bags rather than wrapping paper, as these can be reused again and again. Also, Primark now has festive bags that can be used as wrapping paper, giving your shopping bags a second life.

Christmas day often involves a bin bag or two filled to the brim with used wrapping paper. Taking a moment to peel off any sticky tape, or using recyclable tape and paper will make a big difference.

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She first joined the team at the start of 2021. Previously, she worked in women’s lifestyle and homes news, writing about everything from budget kitchen makeovers and gardening tips to homeware dupes and cleaning hacks. Millie can often be found looking up trending terms, spotting news stories our readers need to know about and finding ways to decorate her rented flat.