Has the festive season lost its sparkle?

December is a time for parties, visiting family and friends, eating half your body weight in extra food, writing cards and wrapping lots of presents.

January is where the festivities die down, the new year begins and people take down their Christmas decorations and cards but what can you do with them?

Glittery cards and wrapping paper are a popular choice but have lost their sparkle with local authorities and paper mills for recycling. Sadly, everything that glitters is not recyclable! This means that every year, thousands of tonnes of paper and card end up being thrown away after the festive seasonWrapping paper and cards have become more elaborately decorated, are often dyed, laminated or contain non-paper additives, like gold and silver coloured shapes, glitter or plastics, which can’t be recycled. Wrapping paper may also be thin and contains few quality fibres for recycling as well as having sticky tape attached which makes it very difficult to recycle.

Think of the thousands of well-meaning families around the UK who have sorted their Christmas waste for recycling. Families enjoying the festive season want to do the right thing and recycle, and it’s incumbent on local authorities to give them the correct advice. How do we tell them it may be burned or sent to landfill?  Ultimately householders go to a lot of trouble to separate their festive waste and will now just feel, what’s the point – my waste is going to end up in landfill anyway.’

Does glitter clog up machinery and contaminate recycled paper? Is there is a need to remove the tape as it will be sieved out when the material is pulped. Because of these issues many local authorities will not take any wrapping paper, while others may reject it if sticky tape is still attached. This was endorsed by Wrap through their Recycle Now campaign in December 2016 stating not to recycle cards and wrapping paper containing glitter. Maybe this warning should have come sooner to avoid householders buying elaborate and embellished paper and cards!

All these baffling rules for festive waste means householders are left unsure what to recycle. We at Credibly Green would advise when recycling wrapping paper to do the ‘scrunch’ test to see if it can be recycled. If the paper remains crumpled in your hand, it is probably recyclable. If the paper springs back flat, it is likely to be metallised plastic film, which is not. Tear the glittery front from cards for general waste and recycle the backs if embellished free. All in all we don’t want to lose the festive sparkle and are keen to encourage householders to recycle as much as possible. ‘However we must remember it is important for everyone to understand that they should follow industry standards to ensure that recycling is not contaminated.’


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