Is Wrapping Paper Recyclable?

July 07, 2021

Is Wrapping Paper Recyclable?

Most wrapping paper isn't recyclable, but some are! Typical Gift Wrap isn't recyclable because of microplastics in the coating and non-paper additives.

Is Wrapping Paper Recyclable? Microplastics might be hiding in your gift wrap

"It's a nightmare for paper mills this time of year," Simon Ellin, the chief executive of the Recycling Association told the BBC. "Not all wrapping paper is paper. It's a crusade we've been on all year - do you really need to design a non-paper wrapping paper? Make paper with recycling in mind!"

Here's the inconvenient truth about how most wrapping paper is made:

It's paper, coated in plastic, rolled onto a cardboard tube, wrapped in plastic film, put in a plastic box, and shipped around the world all before it gets in your hands. Then you unwrap the packaging, toss it in the trash, and wrap the paper-plastic around your otherwise very thoughtfully wrapped gift

 We love pretty paper, but hidden plastics...not so much. Photo of plastic film being heat sealed onto paper to create glossy finish.

While some people might be able to carefully store or upcycle your wrapping paper, most times once the party is over, that wrapping paper-plastic is immediately thrown away or worse.. “WISHCYCLED” You might think you’re helping the environment when you start tossing everything into your recycling bin, but that wishful thinking might be doing more harm than good. If a truckload of perfectly recyclable paper is contaminated by non-recyclable plastic-coated papers (like most glossy or food-soiled papers), the entire truck could be rejected and tossed in the trash instead of recycled.

Read more about what happens when you put the wrong thing in the recycling bin
Prefer some laughs and sarcasm while you learn? Watch this satirical “news" report about Plastics from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

How do you know if wrapping paper is recyclable?

Well, you could be a total eco-nerd and call every recycling center on the island to ask… or you could try the scrunch test:

The Scrunch Test is a life hack you can use if you aren’t sure if your wrapping paper can be recycled. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Scrunch the wrapping paper in question into a ball.
  2. If it holds its shape, throw it in the recycling bin.
  3. If it unfolds or springs back, upcycle or throw in the trash.

If gift wrap has glitter, metallics, or any kind of glossy shine to it, I hate to break it to ya, but that roll contains microplastics and can NOT be recycled.

So what is an environmentally-conscious gift-giver to do!? Wrap everything in upcycled newspaper and copy all of the Kraft paper gift wrapping tips on Pinterest? Stop wrapping gifts at all? See this is why environmentalists get a bad reputation for being no fun - There are proven benefits to wrapping a gift.

Striving to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle (albeit an imperfect one) shouldn’t mean you have to give up traditions that share joy and show your loved ones you care. Being “Green” doesn’t mean everything has to be literally green or brown. You can live sustainably without sacrificing your style. That’s why with Wrappily you can have the most beautifully wrapped gift at the party and feel 100% good about it because it’s 100% recyclable and compostable. 

Wrappily Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap is Recyclable and Compostable

Wrap Sustainably with Style!

Make one small change that can make a big difference, join our community of sustainable & stylish gift-givers changing the world one gift at a time. 


We’re on a mission to green up gifting! Won’t you join us?