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Christmas cards and wrapping paper can’t be recycled in Exeter

Published: 1 December 2022

Christmas cards and wrapping paper can’t be recycled in Exeter Christmas cards and wrapping paper

People in Exeter are being asked to think about the end process when buying Christmas wrapping paper and cards.

The City Council has stressed that it will not take Christmas cards or wrapping paper for recycling once the festive season is over.

And the reason for this is that the materials simply aren’t good enough for recycling into products. The paper in wrapping paper is so poor that it doesn’t make a pulp and the material used in Christmas cards isn’t classed as cardboard and is such poor quality it can’t be turned into paper again.

So our friend Denis the Dustcart has come up with some alternative ideas for Christmas.

‘Boomerang’ Christmas cards

Some people keep a card going for years, writing the greeting in the top left hand corner of the inside left page. The person who receives it then writes a greeting directly below it, and so on. This goes on for a number of years until the card is full up, at which point it is a great record of Christmas greetings past, with personalised messages to keep.

It is estimated that over 1 billion cards are bought in the UK every Christmas, with very little paper being turned back into paper again. That’s a lot of paper. It’s a lot of trees and a lot of land (tree farms aren’t always the most biodiverse of places, either) and a lot of water and a lot of bleaching chemicals and a lot of energy and fuel.

It’s a wrap – why not try something different

Reusable gift boxes and cloth wrappings can be given as part of the gift, to be gifted back to you next year. This can be quite a nice tradition, especially if you attach a large enough tag that you can write this year’s message under last year’s and build up a history of Christmas wishes over the years.

But brown paper, newspaper or old comics could also make fun wrappings and these are definitely recyclable.

So when the decorations come down after Christmas and the last bit of turkey has been nibbled up in a turkey sandwich or curry, please don’t put any wrapping paper – glittery on not glittery – or Christmas cards in the City Council’s green recycling bins or boxes. Putting them in will only result in them being pulled out again by pickers at our Materials Reclamation Facility in Exton Road and sent away with all the other household waste to the energy from waste plant in Exeter, slowing down the sorting line and causing extra and unnecessary work.


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