Facts About Recycling Wrapping Paper

We often say Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Anniversary or hundreds of other celebratory greetings by giving gifts. But it ruins the surprise if you know what you’re getting right away. Enter wrapping paper.

As much fun as wrapping paper can be, it is also a wasteful part of gift-giving. As much as half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans consume every year goes toward packaging, wrapping and decorating goods. Also, wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S.

The History of Wrap

Hallmark is credited with founding the gift wrap industry when, during the Christmas season in 1917, stores ran out of the red, green, white and holly tissue sheets that people used to wrap gifts.

Some decorative envelope lining papers from France were brought from Hallmark’s manufacturing plant and put on top of a showcase for 10 cents a sheet. Needless to say, they sold quickly.

The next year, the sheets were offered three for 25 cents, and they again sold out. Soon gift wrap became the first product Hallmark made that was a departure from greeting cards. From these small beginnings in Kansas City, the gift wrap industry now accounts for $2.6 billion annually in retail sales.

Wrap Today

It can often be difficult to find a location to recycle your wrapping paper because of the materials are typically non-recyclable.

  • Wrapping paper is often dyed and laminated.
  • It can also contain non-paper additives, such as gold and silver coloring, glitter and plastics.
  • It can be very thin and contain few good quality fibers for recycling.
  • It usually has tape on it from the gift wrapping.

Some cities and organizations do recycle wrapping paper or hold large collections each year. Check with your local recycler to see what is accepted in your program.

A Bad Wrap

Consumers can save big when it comes to dollars, and the planet, if they reduce their consumption of this non-recyclable material. According to Eco-Chick.com, if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.