Written by Lacie Wever, HRSD Community Education and Outreach Specialist
Published on December 21, 2021

Once the stockings are hung and Santa has given all the boys and girls their gifts, what do you do with all the packing and wrapping paper these thoughtful gifts came in? With the busyness of unwrapping all the gifts and collecting all the trash, it is easy to mix all the materials and not realize which items are recyclable and which aren’t. When getting rid of your Christmas packaging this year, remember to separate the recyclable packaging from the non-recyclable. 

Here is a quick rundown of which Christmas packaging you can recycle this holiday season. 

Wrapping Paper
wrapping paperAccording to Earth 911, approximately 4.6 million lbs. of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year, and about 2.3 million pounds of that ends its life in landfills. Before reading this statistic, I never considered the impact of wrapping paper on the environment. What’s more, I never considered how much wrapping paper doesn’t get recycled. 

Whether or not wrapping paper is recyclable depends on coating. Both regular wrapping paper and glossy (think magazine texture!)  wrapping paper is recyclable. However, metallic, glitter, and foil wrapping paper is not! Instead of tossing it in your recycling bin, reuse it or place it in the trashcan. 

Christmas packaging décorChristmas bow

I love to add a bow or festive ribbon to my Christmas packages before placing them under the tree. However, bows, ribbons, string and glitter are not recyclable. If you’d like, you can reuse them! I have a box specifically for bows and ribbons that I’ve saved from over the years. If the décor has reached the end of its use, place these items in the trashcan, not the recycling bin. If you have any of these items on your recyclable wrapping paper, remove them first before recycling the paper. 

Gift Bags

Did you know one in four people wrap their holiday gifts one or two days before giving the gift.  If you’re like me and always end up waiting until the last minute to wrap Christmas gifts, you probably end up using a lot of gift bags. They’re convenient, much easier than wrapping, and still festive. However, please note, gift bags and tissue paper are not recyclable.  However, both items are reusable. 

Cardboard shipping boxes

gift boxes
Don’t forget you can give gifts in the original packaging! Cardboard boxes are both recyclable, and they can be reused. Be sure to remove any bubble wrap before recycling. 





Here’s a great visual summary of what you can and can’t recycle this holiday season:

Christmas Packaging Recycling List

Christmas is right around the corner! Make sure you’re recycling right this holiday season.