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Wrapping paper won't be recycled in Exeter - Denis the Dustcart Blog

Published: 30 November 2023

Wrapping paper won't be recycled in Exeter Wrapping paper won't be recycled in Exeter

In his regular feature, Denis the Dustcart talks about wrapping paper and why it won't be recycled in Exeter even when it says is can be.

You can follow Denis on his Facebook page to keep up with information about Recycling issues.

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


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


And the reason for this is that the materials used simply aren’t good enough for recycling into products. 


The fibre quality in wrapping paper is so poor that it doesn’t make a pulp and can’t be turned into paper again. Cards are likewise too poor to be considered cardboard and don’t pulp very well, diluting the quality and value of the other paper the Council sends for recycling. 


Even wrapping paper that says ‘100% recyclable’ is problematic, since it can’t be told apart from non-recyclable wrapping paper in recycling plants. 


So the City Council’s Recycling Team has come up with some fun alternative ideas for Christmas. 


Brown paper, gift boxes and cloth wraps 


Brown paper can be recycled as it is easily identified, and it can even be decorated with festive designs. Things to avoid when choosing or decorating brown wrapping paper are glitter, shiny foil and thick paint. 


Reusable gift boxes and cloth wrappings are attractive alternatives and can be given as part of the gift – perhaps 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.  


Newspaper (make sure it’s good news, if you can find any!) or old comics can also make fun wrappings and these are definitely recyclable. 


‘Boomerang’ Christmas cards 


Buy a larger card and write your 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 sends it back, and so on. This goes on for a number of years until the card is full up. At the end you will have a great record of Christmas greetings past, with personalised messages to keep (or share with your fellow recipient!). 


Did you know? It’s estimated that over 1 billion cards are bought in the UK every Christmas, with very few of them being turned back into paper again. 


Putting cards and wrapping paper in your green bin will only result in it being pulled out again by sorters at the City Council’s Materials Reclamation Facility 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. 


So, when the decorations come down after Christmas and the last bit of turkey has been gobbled up in a sandwich or curry, please don’t put any wrapping paper – glittery on not glittery, shiny or non-shiny – in your green recycling bin. 

Denis on Facebook

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