Wrapping paper. We read ‘paper’ and think, that's great, it must be recyclable? Wrong. Don't be fooled by the friendly paper term, not all wrapping paper is created equal.
It's time to stop and ask the hard questions this holiday season: how do they make wrapping paper so colourful and shiny looking, where is it manufactured, does it contain glitter, is it wrapped in plastic packaging, is it made with recycled materials, do I really need glitter?
Can wrapping paper be recycled? Why don't some local authorities accept wrapping paper for recycling?
The materials that go into making some wrapping paper give us the clues. Wrapping paper is often dyed, laminated and/or contains non-paper additives such as gold and silver coloured shapes, glitter and plastic coatings/linings which cannot be recycled. Some wrapping paper is very thin and contains few good quality fibres for recycling. To maximise the chance of the paper being recycled it needs to have adequate cellulose - the woody fibres. The truth is that the nasty thin paper is not going on to another paper life, it gets sorted straight to landfill.
According to Recycle Now, thin paper that is heavy on ink has a low cellulose yield. Inks create extra sludge in the cellulose chemical extraction process, so that cellulose had better be worth it!
We get it, wrapping gifts makes them look sophisticated, and adds to the fun of not knowing what's inside. We believe the wrapping paper should be a statement, and compliment the gift. So, look for thick wrapping paper, with no glitter or coatings for optimal recyclability…. Ahem… Woodies paper anyone?! Paper with adequate fibres can go on to be recycled five to seven times before cellulose extraction is no longer possible. Just imagine the incredible life your paper has had!
Woodies can be recycled in your yellow lid recycling bin.
What are the wrapping alternatives? I mean, other than Woodies, the ultimate alternative.
Repurpose common household items such as:
- Sheet music
- Old gift bags & tissue paper
Sticky tape and ribbon. It's just plastic.
A lot of wrapping paper has sticky tape attached to it which makes it very difficult to recycle. Small amounts of sticky tape can still be chemically extracted, but there are great alternatives available:
- Non-reinforced gummed paper tape is 100% recyclable. This water activated tape has a natural latex glue adhesive on a natural kraft paper which becomes sticky when moistened with a cloth or sponge. Woodies paper comes with a strip of post consumer recycled gummed paper tape which has a maize starch-based adhesive, ready for you to try out.
- Compostable cellulose tape. This tape is made from a wood pulp base with a high tack natural rubber adhesive. It can go into your home compost, and will break down easily in the recycling process.
Please say no to plastic ribbons, period, they are just plastic. Consider jute twine, bakers twine, hemp twine, paper raffa, or reusing scrap ribbon pieces that you save up throughout the year.
Christmas time, the biggest single use plastic event of the year.
A study by CARE Australia found that we use more than 150,000km of wrapping paper on Christmas day in the land down under. That could wrap around the globe four times. Now picture this, that 150,000km came wrapped in plastic packaging, and may contain plastic coatings. That's one mountain of plastic.
It is the season to overindulge, buy waayy too much food and create a huge amount of waste. Australians increase waste by 30% between Christmas and New Year. There are plenty of opportunities to curb the waste during this time by making smart choices about where you shop and the actions you take to reduce plastic. Support small and local businesses that offer plastic free packaging when food and gift shopping this year.
Did someone say support a small business? Shop at Woodies for recycled and recyclable wrapping paper.