9 December 2015 by Michael Holder

WRAP launches festive paper and card recycling drive

A three-month drive beginning over the festive period to boost household paper and card recycling is underway, spearheaded by the WRAP-led Recycle Now campaign.

big ben xmas wrapping

Image accompanying the Christmas campaign showing Big Ben wrapped in nearly 300,000 tonnes of cardboard

Initially focusing on encouraging the public to recycle Christmas cards and wrapping paper in the lead-up to 25 December, the ‘Paper and card, too valuable to discard’ campaign will continue through to February 2016.

It is the latest in Recycle Now’s quarterly ‘material focus’ after the ‘Recycle Plastic – Fantastic!’ campaign in September, which emphasised the transformation of plastics into new items and what types of bottles, film, pots, tubs and trays can be recycled.

As part of the new festive recycling initiative, Recycle Now has released promotional tools for local authorities and businesses, including images and advice, facts and figures about card and wrapping paper recycling.

wrap recycle now paper and card poster

The latest Recycle Now quarterly initiative focuses on paper and card recycling

According to WRAP, the UK is estimated to use almost 300,000 tonnes of card packaging at Christmas, which if laid out would cover the return distance between London and Lapland 103 times.

Furthermore, 400,000 tonnes of paper and card packaging were not collected for recycling from UK households in 2014.

Recycle Now is therefore urging consumers to recycle this card rather than bin it, offering six ‘festive tips’ and emphasising that all paper, including wrapping paper, is recyclable.

‘Scrunch test’

Shiny and metallic varieties of wrapping paper are not recyclable, however, and the campaign advises consumers that they can use the ‘scrunch test’ to check whether their wrapping paper can be recycled.

According to WRAP, if you scrunch the paper in your hand and it stays in a ball shape, then it can be placed in the recycling box, but if the paper ‘springs’ back it is most likely metallised plastic film and therefore not currently recyclable.


A series of ‘compelling’ images have also been released depicting UK landmarks wrapped in both cardboard and festive wrapping paper, including Big Ben, the London Eye, Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Angel of the North.

WRAP Angel of the North wrapping

The Angel of the North near Gateshead shown covered in cardboard and wrapping paper

The images are backed by facts and figures stating that the 300,000 tonnes of cardboard packaging used at Christmas would wrap Big Ben almost 260,000 times, the London Eye almost 50,000 times, the Angel of the North two million times and the Eden Project in Cornwall more than 11,000 times.

A list of more regional facts along similar lines have also been released for local landmarks in the likes of Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Belfast and Blackpool.

During the campaign, WRAP is also supporting East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership through its local communication fund to deliver local paper and card recycling campaigns.

Alice Harlock, recycling expert at Recycle Now, said: “Card and wrapping paper are Christmas icons just like the UK landmarks images we have ‘wrapped’ to highlight the scale of recycling people can do in the UK this Christmas. Recycling them can be your gift to the environment.

“All councils in the UK accept paper and 98% accept card. If in doubt as to whether your wrapping paper can be recycled, we encourage people to do the ‘scrunch test’, just to be sure.”


In preparation for the campaign, WRAP worked with members of the paper and card industry – including the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) and carton producers DS Smith and ACE UK – to ensure the drive tackles key issues such as reducing contamination and increasing material capture.

“All councils in the UK accept paper and 98% accept card. If in doubt as to whether your wrapping paper can be recycled, we encourage people to do the ‘scrunch test’, just to be sure.”

Alice Harlock
Recycle Now

Simon Weston, director of raw materials at CPI, said:The CPI is delighted to support the Recycle Now campaign to promote the recycling of paper and card over the festive season. For the consumer, paper and card packaging is as much a part of the celebrations as turkey and mince pies. It is important that we help them capture these valuable resources and turn them back into useful products when the merrymaking is over.”

Running since 2004, the Recycle Now campaign was relaunched over the summer, updating its range of free-to-use promotional materials for local authorities and businesses to promote recycling (see letsrecycle.com story).

The next quarterly material drive will focus on glass and can recycling from March-May 2016.

Related Links:

Recycle Now


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