Recycled Wrapping Paper: A Sustainable Christmas

  • Christina Dymiotis
  • 1st December 2022



Christmas...the most wonderful but also wasteful time of the year! From packaging to food waste, the list of wasteful Christmas traditions is very long. One of the biggest issues is plastic and non-biodegradable packaging and gift wrapping.  In the UK alone 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is used each year and almost all of it will end up in our landfills (The Telegraph). Likewise,  around 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown away and not recycled in the UK this Christmas ( WCL ). Therefore, it is high time we start using recycled wrapping paper and other alternatives in order to reduce our waste this Christmas. So, what are the alternatives and what constitutes an eco-friendly wrapping paper?  Fortunately, there are ways of maintaining the excitement of present opening, with a reduced impact on the planet. In this post, we will explore some of the sustainable wrapping paper alternatives available. 


What’s The Problem 

 As already mentioned, wrapping paper is a massive wasteful part of Christmas.  

First things first, the production of all that wrapping paper causes unnecessary damage to the environment, as it utilises up precious resources that could be better used for something else! In the UK, five million tonnes of paper are sent to landfill every year. (Recycle More) . 

A defra study revealed that there are enough paper is used every year to gift-wrap the whole island of Guernsey. (Wrag Wrap). Essentially, wrapping paper is designed for single use only, and although some try to re-use it a few times, realistically this can only be done once or twice before it gets destroyed. Around 11.8 million kilos of carbon dioxide are emitted every year from manufacturing wrapping paper for the Christmas holidays.  (NLWA).   

In addition, cheap wrapping paper includes fibres and microplastics that are not strong enough to be recycled.  Wrapping paper is often dyed and laminated and can also contain non-paper additives such as gold and silver colouring, glitter, laminate, foil and sticky tape etc. Thus, making the paper non-recyclable and non- biodegradable. Specifically, Biffa Waste Services Ltd verified that Recycling Christmas wrapping paper is a difficult and timely process because on the non-recyclable compartments such as foil and glitter. Additionally, the heavy dyes in Christmas wrapping make the paper hard to de-ink. (BIFFA). Therefore, there has not been a better time to start using alternative sustainable wrapping paper.  



Our Picks 

  • Newspapers, Comics or Magazines  

  • Brown or Kraft paper  

  • Children's art work 

  • Fabric (e.g. scarves, tea towels, cushion covers, pillowcases, offcuts, and tote bags - all good for trying out the Japanese art of Furoshiki) 

  • Maps and Old calendars 

  • Bags and packaging  

  • Music sheets  

  • Tins and jars 

  • Use natural Ingredientes to decorate the packages such as tried fruit such as lemons and oranges as well as herbs, such as holly or rosemary  

  • As a minimum, this Christmas, steer clear of single-use wrapping paper that’s shiny, metallic, laminated or wax-coated or contains glitter 

  • Opt for wrapping paper that is ‘recyclable’ and  has the FSC mark (Forest Stewardship Council) 


Another quick tip is to swap normal sticky tape with paper or washi tape, to keep your gifts as eco-friendly as possible!  


So, there you have it! BIDBI’s list of the best Recycled Wrapping Paper choices for a more sustainable Christmas includes fabric, newspapers, tins, and many others.  

We hope these tips help you to reduce waste in the festive period. 

Happy sustainable Christmas!  

Learn More about Recycling Wrapping Paper