What to do (and what not to do) with leftover gift packaging and wrapping paper

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Americans generate 25% more waste per household during the holiday season. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week, according to Stanford Recyling, Land, Building, Real Estate.

How to reduce waste: Wrapping paper is often used once and thrown away. Try using colorful pages torn from magazines to wrap small gifts, and old maps or the Sunday comics for larger boxes. Avoid using paper entirely by using reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes. If you do buy wrapping paper, look for ones made of recycled paper. Reusable cloth ribbons can be used in place of plastic bows. Finally, unwrap gifts carefully and save wrappings for reuse next year.

When you can’t reduce, or reuse, experts say to recycle, but if you put the wrong items in your recycling bin, it can lead to backups and other problems at the recycling center. Republic Services Division Manager Jason Graves told News4Jax the backups can get costly.

“When the line goes down, we’re not able to recycle during that time. But the material keeps coming in. That adds overtime, adds expense to the operation," he said.

From wrapping paper to boxes, there’s a guide to follow. Even seemingly minor issues with proper recyclables can have a big impact on landfills.

“a plastic bag. Which, we don’t accept. Inside of it are good recyclables. But we don’t have time to rip open the bag. It’s got to be loose inside your recycle bin," Graves said.

So what else needs to be kept out of the recycling bin?


  • Appliances
  • Batteries
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Christmas Lights
  • Food Waste
  • Food Wrap
  • Plastic Bags
  • Polystyrene
  • Rubber Balls
  • Sports Equipment
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Wood/Yard Waste
  • Wrapping Paper*

Recycling holiday items means not all wrapping paper is created equal. Simple, traditional wrapping paper can be recycled, paper with foil and glitter cannot be. The same goes for greeting cards. Find more dos and dont’s.

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