Recycling the holiday wrapping papers and packaging

Deck the halls and the walls!

The season of gift giving and receiving is here. While this brings joy to many, it also brings a lot of potential waste. Gift wrap, bags, boxes, packing peanuts, plastic, cardboard tubes, bubble wrap, and tissue paper are just a few of the leftovers from a successful holiday. You’ve spent hours carefully wrapping the gifts and within a frenzied few minutes, you’re left with a mess.

At first thought, it would seem wrapping paper is recyclable because it is paper. But, it’s tricky.

Wrapping paper can be made of different kinds of paper, and not all paper is recyclable. Plus, some wrapping paper has glitter or metallic stripes. Some have dyes and chemicals to make it shiny and vibrant. These kinds of wrapping paper are not acceptable in the recycling center.

But, plain is good.

If your wrapping paper is like newspaper, brown craft paper, or paper grocery bags  you can recycle it. If there are any stickers, tape, bows, or ribbon attached, remove them. Those are not recyclable.

What about the cardboard tubes that come with the wrapping paper? Good news – You can recycle them! You can recycle the cardboard boxes the gifts arrived on your doorstep in, too. Remove labels, stickers and tape, and all packing materials from inside.

Speaking of containers that hold the gifts, you may be wondering what can be recycled.

Let’s break these items down by what they are made of.


Plastic film cannot be recycled. It gets stuck in recycling machinery.  Sometimes local retailers will accept plastic bags back for recycling.  Check with your local stores.

Bubble wrap and inflated plastic shipping “pillows” cannot be recycled either.

Plastic bags should not be placed in the recycling bin because they tangle themselves in recycling machinery.

Plastic clamshells can be made of different kinds of plastic and are no good either.

Simple Rule for Plastic: ONLY plastics numbers 1 and 2 on the bottom are recycleable.

And please remove bottle caps from your drink containers!

Foam and Styrofoam Peanuts

A lot of the things you buy this year will have thick hard foam or Styrofoam peanuts keeping them safe from bumps and bangs. But, is it recyclable? The short answer is NO. So, please keep foam packing peanuts out of the recycling bin.

What about the paper packaging we sometimes see protecting items?  It looks like shredded paper!

Well, yes, it may be paper; however, small items like this cannot be separated from the other recyclable items and become a contaminant in the finished product. So keep all shredded paper out of your recycle bin, even if you bag it.  Consider NOT shredding your paper at home unless it has a social security number on it. Most items shredded at home really don’t need to be.  Shredding creates a mess and is not necessary.  Unshredded paper products (including junk mail and printer paper) CAN be recycled!

So keep out any products smaller than 3 inches!

RDS (Recycling and Disposal Services) offers waste management and recycling solutions for businesses as well as municipalities.