Is wrapping paper recyclable? A look at holiday recycling misconceptions

The holiday season typically means the City of Winnipeg will see an increase in the amount of garbage and recycling collected but the materials aren’t always put in the correct bins.

One of the biggest misconceptions around holiday recycling is what to do with wrapping paper.

“It unfortunately has to go in the garbage,” said Mark Kinsley, Supervisor of Waste Diversion. “The dyes can create a lot of problems and there are so many kinds.”

Despite being called paper, Kinsley said wrapping paper is made from different materials including foil or plastic.

It is the same for greeting cards. Sparkles, foam and sticker-type materials all make the paper unable to be recycled.

“Foil, Styrofoam, packing peanuts and bubble wrap also have to go in the garbage,” said Kinsley.


Used wrapping paper sits on the ground beside a Christmas tree.
ID 21794546 © Saje |

If your holiday plans include going to the drive thru for a coffee or tea, the disposable cup the drink comes in is not recyclable.

“It has to do with the coating on the cups and the dyes in the paper,” said Kinsley. “The lids aren’t detected by the new technology.”

It is a common misconception the disposable cup lids can be recycled because they often have the recycling symbol on them.

“Even if the items have the recycling symbol on them, it doesn’t mean they are acceptable in Winnipeg’s program,” said Kinsley. “That is why it is so important to check the acceptable list to find out what items are.”

Kinsley added to make sure not to put recyclable items in plastic bags before putting them in the blue carts. The bag, and everything in it, will be thrown into the garbage once it reaches the sorting facility.

Plastic bags are also not recyclable through your blue carts. Instead, they should be reused for shopping, household garbage or pet waste, or  returned to grocery stores that participate in plastic bag recycling programs.

You should also avoid nesting your recyclables. That means putting recyclables with different material types all in the same container and then putting the one container in your cart. For example, placing cans inside boxes. The items won’t be able to be recycled because items have to be sorted by material type. That isn’t possible if the items are nested.

Originally published on December 20, 2018

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