How To Recycle Christmas Wrapping Paper, Gift Boxes And Cards
How To Recycle Christmas Wrapping Paper, Gift Boxes And Cards

How To Recycle Christmas Wrapping Paper, Gift Boxes And Cards

7 minutes read

In the UK alone, Brits dispose of an estimated 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year at Christmas, according to waste management company BIFFA. That’s enough to wrap the whole Earth more than eight times! Recycling charity WRAP adds: on Christmas day, we consume enough box packaging to cover Big Ben nearly 260,000 times. 

However, with all our online shopping and the overwrapping on the big day – it can be hard to know what and how to recycle Christmas wrapping paper, cards and boxes. So, here are helpful tips on how you can be more eco-friendly this festive season and beyond.  


Is Christmas wrapping paper recyclable?   

You might think all Christmas wrapping paper gets recycled. However, this is only sometimes the case. Even though it’s branded as ‘paper,’ Christmas wrapping papers often contain much more than simple paper.  

Check their make-up. Some are dyed, laminated, and contain non-paper additives such as gold and silver-coloured foil, glitter, plastics and more. Unfortunately, these can’t be recycled because they’re made with microplastics and will have to go to landfill. So, try to avoid this when choosing your seasonal wrapping.  

The same goes with Christmas boxes and tags; if it has shine, they can’t be recycled. So, opt for a brown paper box, tags or wrapping paper instead. It has a more rustic, natural feel and is more sustainable.  

Rustic Paper

Amazon has a selection of eco-friendly seasonal gift wrappers too like this Heelay Christmas Wrapping Paper 10 Sheets, £7.99. It’s made with 100% recycled material with no coatings or glitter, fully recyclable and biodegradable. It comes in 10 unique designs such as snowflakes, Santa Claus, snowflake snowman, HOHO, Christmas candy, Merry Christmas, Christmas tree, and more. 

If you’ve always struggled or slacked in the Christmas wrapping department, you’ll love this study: Researchers at the University of Nevada revealed that Christmas gifts are better received when they’re poorly wrapped.  

Gifts wrapped neatly raise expectations of the gift itself. But conversely, people tend to set their expectations low with sloppy wrapping and will appreciate what’s inside even more. So, you’re welcome to skip the fancy, glitzy, gift wraps, plastic ribbons, and bows this time around. 

Do the Christmas wrapping paper ‘scrunch test’

What you can do to make sure your Christmas wrapping paper passes the recycling process is to do the ‘scrunch test.’ If it scrunches, it can be recycled.  

Remove sticky tape, bows, ribbons, or Christmas stickers and labels. Unfortunately, when this reaches the recycling facility, it will be considered non-recyclable and sent to a landfill. If it does get through – then it has the capability of breaking and clogging the machines.  

A little peace of mind: if you purchase any product from Clarins, you’re automatically eligible for a free-of-charge Christmas gift-wrapping service at all Clarins counters. In addition, all Clarins’ gift wrapping and packaging are sourced from sustainably managed forests, so, rest assured you’re not contributing to further harming the planet.  

“The Clarins Christmas wrapping paper is fully recyclable as it isn’t shiny (foiled) or glittery,” Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager, assures us. Plus, someone else doing the wrapping takes some of the pain from prepping for the big day. Explore Clarins Christmas Boutique here 

For all the other non-recyclable Christmas wrapping papers, paper bags, ribbons, and bows – store them in a box and re-use them again. They can come in handy for kids crafting or gifting throughout the year. Or check out Papier’s ‘How to upcycle greeting cards‘.  

Read next: 6 Beauty Daily Staffers Share The Beauty Product They’d Want To Give & Receive This Christmas   

Are Christmas cards recyclable?

A heartfelt Christmas card is a simple yet touching way to send love to your family and friends. But unfortunately, they can easily add to the January waste pile once the festive season ends.  

Royal Mail delivers around 150 million cards during the pre-Christmas period. It’s estimated that one billion Christmas cards end up in the bin after the holiday season.  

The good news is that most Christmas cards are paper-based and can be recycled, along with their envelopes. Just put them in your recycling bin.    

However, some effort is needed to recycle the glitzy and sparkly ones with glitter, foil, or fancy embellishments such as ribbons or gems.    

Remove them first by tearing off that section. Christmas musical cards with batteries should also be removed and disposed of at battery recycling points. UK’s leading supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury, and Asda have collection bins in-store for used household batteries. These bins are often located near the checkout or exit. Or simply drop them off at one of Cancer Research UK’s stores. 

You can also check your nearby recycling points here.

Christmas Cards

Sustainable Christmas Cards

Better yet, try making your cards at home or supporting local and sustainable handmade cards, and avoid buying any cards with glitter, sequins, or plastic decorations on them.  

Look for the FSC logo. The FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) is a revered worldwide organisation that assures you the wood, paper and card products you buy are sustainability sourced.  

Supporting charities like World Land Trust by buying greeting cards from their online store also gives you peace of mind that proceeds help protect environmentally-threatened lands in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

World Land Trust

We love this Christmas Squirrel Pack of 5 Cards, £4.90 designed by artist Rachel Collier-Wilson. 

Papier also has a selection of festive Christmas cards that are FSC-certified. This Girl With Gifts, £3.60  doesn’t only help you spread the festive cheer, it also allows you to touch people’s lives. 


5p from the sale of every Christmas Card sold goes to Women for Women International – a charity that helps resilient women survivors of war rebuild their lives. 

Another option you can look into are plantable Christmas cards. Yes, you heard that right! Etsy store, My Eco Design sells eco-friendly plantable cards made from post-consumer waste, 100% made with donated material from a variety of sources such as local schools and businesses to help save trees and reduce waste. The cool part is each card is embedded with wildflower seeds. A mix of daisy, poppy and celosia seeds. 


Your recipient can plant the card post-holidays and grow beautiful flowers to support bees, butterflies and all other pollinators. This Have Yourself A Sweet Christmas Pack of 4 Seed Cards starts at £21.20. Explore My Eco design store here

It’s also worth checking if the Christmas cards you buy are printed with vegan-friendly ink. Most store-bought cards are printed with standard inks which contain nasty chemical components such as carbon and contain micro granules of plastic. Both of which pose serious environmental issues. 

Whereas vegan-friendly inks are made from plants and vegetables, the same ones that are often used in food colouring. Seed Card Company Christmas cards are printed with vegetable and soy inks, plus your recipient can plant them post-Christmas. Instructions are behind the card. We’re loving this festive Evergreen Christmas card, £3.95

The Seed Company

The brand also sells sustainable Christmas gift wrappers, cards, tags and more. Check here.

Christmas E-Cards 

Christmas e-cards are becoming increasingly popular. Choosing Christmas e-cards rather than traditional paper cards reduces your carbon footprint and saves you time.

Most e-cards are free or cost only a fraction of paper cards. This way, you can send all Christmas love as much as you like without costing you and the planet. 

Additionally, 68 million trees are cut down yearly to produce paper and paper products. What’s even more surprising? Paper production requires twice the energy used to produce a plastic bag.   

Now, if you consider that the paper industry also requires 2,700 litres of water to make just one tonne of paper, you’ll quickly realise why eco-friendly Christmas cards are the new cool thing to opt for. 

You can also send charity e-cards with a donation representing the cost of traditional cards. It’s easier, better for the environment and helps support your chosen charity.


We love: Send Personalised Christmas E-Cards for Charity. Choose a design or a charity you’d like to support, like Shelter UK, Salvation Army, or Veterans Aid. The Christmas e-cards can be easily personalised and sent.  

Read next: 6 Great Charity Gifts Ideas: Gifts That Give Back And Make A Difference 

Did you know that around eight million Christmas trees are said to be discarded annually in the UK alone? So if you’re thinking of getting that fresh Norway spruce tree, think twice. Here we’ve listed how you can rent, re-use, replant and recycle your Christmas tree, plus more tips on how to Have Yourself A Very Sustainable Christmas

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