Posted on by Elspeth Devine

The question of whether or not gift wrapping can be recycled is an important one for consumers. The revelation that many traditional gift wraps contained unrecyclable foils and plastic coatings came as a shock to many gift givers, who’d been happily putting used wrapping paper in the recycle bin for many years!


But how do you or a consumer tell if gift packaging is recyclable?

With the gift market now largely looking for more sustainable options for their gift wrap, being able to tell what packaging is made of and if it is recyclable is a major sales consideration for wrapping paper retailers.

In this article, we look at some of the ways to tell if gift wrap is recyclable, and how you can reassure your customers to encourage more sales.

On-package recycling label

The easiest way to determine if gift packaging is recyclable is to look for a recycling symbol on the packaging. Recycling labels tell consumers what type of packaging the product has and whether it is recyclable. The label will explain whether the user can put the packaging in a household recycling bin or not, and if there are any specific instructions to make recycling easier.

However, it’s important to note that not all packaging with a recycling symbol can be recycled in every area, so you may want to check with your local recycling facilities and create additional information or instructional signage for your customers to clarify the recyclability of your products.

Mixed materials

In general, packaging and gift wrap made of mixed materials is more difficult to recycle, as it is expensive and often impossible to break down used gift wrap into its constituent parts. To avoid ambiguity, therefore, you may wish to avoid selling packaging that is made from mixed materials, as these are often not recyclable in most areas. Packaging that features metallic foils and plastic coatings are usually not recyclable.

Simple tests for recyclability

If you’ve been sent a packaging or gift wrap sample and are not sure whether it can be recycled, there are a couple of simple tests you can use to determine its sustainability credentials.

  • The scrunch test – scrunch a sheet of the gift wrap into a ball and if it stays scrunched, then it’s probably 100% paper and can be recycled.
  • The rip test – many festive wrapping papers are coated with a thin layer of plastic for extra durability. This makes the gift wrap unrecyclable. You can try a rip test for the presence of a coating; if you can’t easily rip through the wrapping paper then there is probably a plastic coating present.

Gloss and matte

Contrary to popular misconception, most glossy wrapping paper can be recycled, as long as you are sure that the gift wrap is made of 100% paper. Consumers may not be aware of this; you can inform them by printing a special sticker for the outer packaging of any glossy wrapping paper to confirm that it can be recycled with paper and cardboard as usual.

Find out more

At Kudos Giftwrap, we offer a range of gift wrap and packaging products that are environmentally friendly and can be easily recycled using local facilities.

When you're browsing look out for our Recycled and Recyclable tags.  "Recycled" means that the product is made from recycled material.  "Recyclable" means that the product can be recycled.

Click here to find out more about our sustainable packaging solutions, or contact us for more information.


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