Can you recycle wrapping paper in the UK? A guide to eco-friendly gift wrap


Tons of wrapping paper goes to waste every year in the UK. (Picture: Getty)

As we turn our attention to how to be more sustainable in the UK, the question of how to have a more eco-friendly Christmas – especially when it comes to sustainable wrapping paper and if you can even recycle wrapping paper in the UK – is on people’s minds.

After the shopping madness of Black Friday and with Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s only a matter of time before we need to turn our attention to Christmas wrapping (if you’re not one of those incredibly organised people who has your packages and parcels wrapped and ready to go already.)

Love it or hate it, wrapping presents is one of those Christmas traditions that’s a staple – and well worth it when you see the surprise on someone’s face as they unwrap something when they have no idea what gift you’ve bought them.

However, the need to be more sustainable when it comes to our gift wrap choices is pressing.

According to the GWP Group, in the UK we use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper ever single year, which averages out to about four rolls of wrapping per household.

Sadly lots of Christmas gift wrap ends up in the bin – but it doesnt have to be that way. (Picture: Getty)

Of that huge quantity, more than 83km2 of it goes in the bin, but this doesn’t need to be the case.

Can you recycle wrapping paper in the UK?

Contrary to popular belief, wrapping paper can be recycled in the UK – but it has to be a certain type of paper as not all Christmas wrapping can be accepted.

While it is best to check with your local council or recycling scheme if they accept wrapping paper or not, some guidelines for checking if the wrapping paper you are using can be recycled are as follows:

Plain, good quality paper makes good eco-friendly gift wrap because it can be recycled. (Picture: Getty)

Before you put wrapping paper out to be recycled, you should also ensure that you have removed any sticky tape, ribbons, bows or other decorations as these cannot be recycled.

Eco-friendly wrapping ideas

If you want to give a gift in wrapping that is eco-friendly and can be recycled, try using self-adhesive paper tape. It’s recyclable along with many good quality paper wrappings and can either be bought in a natural brown colour for £1.51 per 50m roll from websites like eco-craft or with a festive pattern for £1 for 3m from websites like andkeep.com.

With so many options to choose from, there’s really no reason not to use the eco-friendly stuff. (Picture: andkeep.com)

There is also the option to avoid sticky tape and rolls of wrapping paper altogether and choose to gift your presents in fabric which can then be re-used. Up-cycle old fabric you have at home or buy some from a local market or your high-street.

With fabric this pretty, the wrapping actually becomes part of the gift. (Picture: Lush)

Vegetarian, vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics brand Lush has been championing ‘knot wrap’ for a decade now, upcycling 47,000 kilograms of vintage scarves in the process.

Knot wrap is colorful fabric used instead of wrapping paper to gift presents. (Picture: Lush)

The idea is that you wrap your present in a piece of fabric or scarf, using only the material and no additional tape, bows or ties. Lush sell their knot wrap scarves for £5.

By knotting a gift up in a scarf, the fabric can be easily undone and reused again (and again, and again) in the future, either as gift wrap or as decoration, clothing, hair accessory and more.

Wondering how to wrap a present using fabric? Lush have a handy guide on how to wrap anything in a scarf from pots, to bottles, books and bath bombs. Check it out here.

MORE: M&S promises to ditch glitter on all cards, gift wrap and food packaging this Christmas

MORE: The best eco-friendly decorations for a sustainable Christmas





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