Eco Christmas: Recyclable wrapping paper to make your presents extra special

·5-min read
A close-up shot of a man receiving a Christmas gift from a woman. The present is wrapped in kraft paper, decorated with a wooden snowflake and a peace of a pine tree branch and tied with manila rope. Using natural and recyclable materials is one of the ways to make your Christmas environmentally friendly.
Presents are even better when wrapped in recyclable paper. (Getty Images)

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After Christmas dinner, while still enveloped in the warm glow of a morning spent opening presents, we are filled with good intentions to extend our spirit of goodwill to the planet by recycling all the discarded wrapping paper.

But then things get complicated as we wonder: can this gift wrap actually be recycled? 

People trying to ascertain whether wrapping paper can be put in their kerbside recycling flooded the Recycle Now website between Christmas Day and New Year in 2019, accounting for more than 20,000 visits in one week, according to analysis by WRAP.

The answer unfortunately is not simple, as some councils will accept wrapping paper in their household recycling collection scheme, but others will not, so Recycle Now recommends checking first.

If wrapping paper is accepted for recycling in your local area, even then it's important to note that not all designs can be recycled. 

Glossy, laminated, metallic or glittery paper cannot be recycled. Neither can very thin wrapping paper as it contains too few good quality fibres. 

According to Recycle Now, wrapping paper can only be recycled if it passes the scrunch test - crumple it into a ball with your hand and if it remains scrunched it can be recycled, but if it springs back it may contain plastic and is not recyclable.

For the avoidance of doubt this year, you can buy wrapping paper that has been designed to be recycled. For even more green points, look out for rolls made out of paper that has been recycled or is FSC certified, which means it comes from forests that meet the highest environmental and social standards.

To make your Christmas shopping a bit easier, we've scoured the online shops to bring you the best recyclable wrapping paper in 12 festive designs.

Best eco-friendly wrapping paper 2021

Clara And Macy Christmas Carrot Wrapping Paper | From £4.95 at Not On The High Street

Christmas Carrot Wrapping Paper (Clara And Macy/Not On The High Street)
Christmas Carrot Wrapping Paper (Clara And Macy/Not On The High Street)

This quirky hand-drawn snowman's nose design is sure to stand out under the Christmas tree. Each 50cm by 70cm sheet is printed on FSC certified paper and is fully recyclable. Matching carrot wrapping stickers printed on recycled paper can also be bought, to give you a completely recyclable wrapping option without needing to use tape. 

Eco Christmas Wrap Bundle | £18 for a pack of 5 rolls at Paperchase

Eco Christmas Wrap Bundle (Paperchase)
Eco Christmas Wrap Bundle (Paperchase)

Stock up on five rolls of recyclable and FSC approved wrapping paper in a set of fun festive prints designed to appeal to the whole family. From Christmas trees and festive scenes for grown ups to stockings and polar bears for kids.

Technicolour Supernature Nutcracker Extra Wide Gift Wrap, | £5 at John Lewis & Partners

Technicolour Supernature Nutcracker Extra Wide Gift Wrap (John Lewis & Partners)
Technicolour Supernature Nutcracker Extra Wide Gift Wrap (John Lewis & Partners)

We love the slightly muted colour palette of this cheery nutcracker design. This 8m long roll is 1m wide for larger presents and all of John Lewis' wrapping paper is recyclable and FSC certified. 

Secret Forest Recycled Wrapping Paper | £7 for 10 metres at RSPB

Secret Forest Recycled Wrapping Paper (RSPB)
Secret Forest Recycled Wrapping Paper (RSPB)

Leaping reindeers, soaring owls and moon-gazing hares adorn this rich teal recycled FSC certified paper. Each pack contains two 5m long rolls which are fully recyclable.

Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Paper, Tag & Ribbon Pack | £6 at Marks and Spencer

Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Paper, Tag & Ribbon Pack (Marks and Spencer)
Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Paper, Tag & Ribbon Pack (Marks and Spencer)

Ensure all your wrapping is coordinated with this gold, green and white set containing three rolls of 1.5m long recyclable wrapping paper, with 3m twine, 3m gold paper raffia ribbon and six gift tags. All the items are plastic free and have been made using sustainable materials from FSC-certified forests and other controlled sources.

Re-wrapped Store Birds of Paradise | £5.75 at Amazon

Birds of Paradise (Re-Wrapped Store/Amazon)
Birds of Paradise (Re-Wrapped Store/Amazon)

If you prefer your wrapping to stand out from a sea of reindeers and Christmas trees, we recommend this vibrant green design featuring bring pink flowers and blue birds. The set includes three 70cm by 50 cm sheets and three gift tags, all designed, produced and printed in the UK using unbleached recycled paper and vegan-friendly vegetable inks. 

The paper is biodegradable and compostable and can be fully recycled. Plus, orders are delivered in recycled brown envelopes or boxes, and packed in biodegradable and compostable corn starch bags.

Eco-Wrap Deer Luxe Christmas Wrapping Paper | £5 at WH Smith

Eco-Wrap Recycled and Recyclable Deer Luxe Christmas Wrapping Paper (WH Smith)
Eco-Wrap Recycled and Recyclable Deer Luxe Christmas Wrapping Paper (WH Smith)

This traditional red and green deer design has a Scandi vibe. Made from 80% recycled material and 20% new FSC certified paper, in a UK paper mill using vegetable based ink. The 50cm by 4m roll is widely recyclable.

Kate Slater Narnia Luxury Wrapping Paper | From £7.75 at Not On The High Street

Narnia 100% Recycled, Luxury Christmas Wrapping Paper (Kate Slater/Not On The High Street)
Narnia 100% Recycled, Luxury Christmas Wrapping Paper (Kate Slater/Not On The High Street)

This whimsical paper features the characters Mr Tumnus and Lucy from C.S Lewis' magical tale The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Made from 100% recycled paper, each sheet comes with a matching gift tag. Available in packs of two, five or 10 recyclable sheets, which are 70cm by 50cm.

Eco-Wrap Recycled and Recyclable Colour In Bauble Wrapping Paper | £5 at WH Smith

Eco-Wrap Recycled and Recyclable Colour In Bauble Wrapping Paper (WH Smith)
Eco-Wrap Recycled and Recyclable Colour In Bauble Wrapping Paper (WH Smith)

This white kraft wrapping paper is designed to be coloured in – either by kids helping with the gift wrapping, or by those receiving the gift, giving them an extra activity to enjoy on Christmas Day. It is "wet strength", which means you could cut some rectangles for dinner table placemat entertainment. Made in a UK paper mill from 80% recycled material and 20% new FSC certified paper using vegetable based ink, the 50cm by 4m roll is widely recyclable.

Percy Pig Wrap & Tag Pack | £6 at Marks and Spencer

Percy Pig Wrap & Tag Pack (Marks and Spencer)
Percy Pig Wrap & Tag Pack (Marks and Spencer)

Percy Pig fans will be tickled pink to know this set is recyclable. Comprising of two 4m rolls of reversible Percy Pig/red and white striped wrapping paper and two packs of six Percy printed gift tags, which are plastic free and made using material from FSC-certified forests and other controlled sources.

Technicolour Supernature Reindeer / Star Gift Wrap Set | £10 at John Lewis & Partners

Technicolour Supernature Reindeer / Star Gift Wrap Set (John Lewis & Partners)
Technicolour Supernature Reindeer / Star Gift Wrap Set (John Lewis & Partners)

This popular red, white and silver set includes two rolls of 3m gift wrap – one printed with reindeer and the other with snowflakes, both of which is FSC certified and recyclable. Plus, two 3m ribbons and six reindeer gift tags.

Summer Lane Studio Things We Love About Christmas | From £2.50 at Etsy

Things We Love About Christmas Recycled Wrapping Paper (Summer Lane Studio/Etsy)
Things We Love About Christmas Recycled Wrapping Paper (Summer Lane Studio/Etsy)

This wrapping paper features fun rhymes about festive season favourites, such as wishing for snow and writing letters to Santa. Made from recycled paper and fully recyclable these 70cm by 50cm sheets are designed and printed in the UK using vegetable based inks.

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