Homes and businesses have been awash with Christmas wrapping paper and other associated packaging materials for the last month or more.
There has been the endless cutting and sticking of the present wrapping process, not to mention the ripping-off frenzy at Christmas parties, office ‘dos’ and on the big day itself.
Black sacks aplenty were stuffed to capacity with wrapping paper and packaging tape, not to mention all of the corrugated paper, boxes and envelopes associated with the festive fun. But now the serious business of Christmas has begun: the recycling.
This is no small endeavour, as the WRAP UK organisation, set up to promote sustainability, claims that the amount of wrapping paper thrown away over this Christmas period would stretch all the way to the moon. Add to this mountain around a billion festive cards and so much tin foil that it could cover the whole of the county of Suffolk, and you begin to understand the sheer volumes of rubbish that the Christmas season creates.
The main issue with wrapping paper is that some of it is still not being accepted to join the recycling process. The addition of non-paper elements such as plastic, glitter and silver and gold shapes can make it problematic, as is the fact that it is also frequently laminated and dyed.
Some British local authorities do accept wrapping paper, but many others will not collect it as some paper mills will not accept it.
This is sure to be a consideration in the future, as WRAP figures show that the number of paper products being collected to head for recycling is falling. This is largely due to the increase in the use of electronic equipment rather than traditional paper-based products. Newspapers, for example, are read less today because many people can access the information that they need and want online.
Prices within the industry are also decreasing. Old Corrugated Container prices for domestic items fell by £3 a tonne between May and June 2014, reaching £68 a tonne. This compared to a year before, when a tonne was worth £75. There is also the issue of ‘fussier’ paper mills which only want what they believe is ‘quality’ stock.
Some British authorities have already started to focus on this issue, and it looks set to become more of a priority across the board over the coming months and years.