Can you recycle your wrapping paper? The answer might surprise you

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A woman wraps a gift in a toys store in Paris on December 16, 2019. (Photo by Aurore MESENGE / AFP) (Photo by AURORE MESENGE/AFP via Getty Images)

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Few moments compare to watching your loved ones eagerly tear through the layers of wrapping paper and ribbons on Christmas morning. The not-so-fun part is the cleanup afterward. You might be tempted to throw all your wrapping paper in the recycling, but most holiday items aren’t recyclable.

In fact, trying to recycle everything might be doing more harm than good. Check out WKRG’S list of recyclable and non-recyclable items. The answers may surprise you. 

Is wrapping paper recyclable? Yes and no

While gift wrapping paper is technically recyclable, most of them are not. A large portion of wrapping papers are laminated, meaning they are coated with a thin layer of plastic which makes them non-recyclable. If your wrapping paper is glossy or glittery, chances are it’s non-recyclable, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Only 100% paper gift wrap is recyclable.

What about bows, ribbons and tissue paper?

All of these items are not recyclable. Bows and ribbons tangle sorting equipment at recycling plants, according to a scarce.org, an educational organization in Illinois that teaches about recycling. Although tissue is made out of paper, the fibers in the paper are too small to recycle. 

Well then, what is recyclable?

Cardboard boxes and paper gift bags are recyclable, according to the EPA. Shipping boxes like the ones provided by Amazon and FedEx are great for wrapping presents and can be recycled. Plain wrapping boxes can also be recycled. Paper gift bags that don’t have bows or glitter can also go in the recycling bin. As long as there the boxes aren’t laminated, they can be recycled.

(Getty Images)

I can’t tell if something is recyclable. Should I put it in the bin always?

When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better to throw away a non-recyclable item, then place it with recyclable items and risk contamination, or damage to the equipment used in the recycling process. If you are unsure, click here to view a list of recyclable and non-recyclable items on their website.

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