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That sticky Christmas challenge unwrapped

A UK recycler has issued a timely warning about the problems caused by the unsustainable use of adhesive tape in wrapping our Christmas presents.

Businesswaste, which is based in York, has calculated that six million rolls of such tape (‘sellotape’) were sold in the UK during December in the run-up to Christmas. The problem for waste collectors after the holidays is that sticky tape is usually non-recyclable, being generally made from polypropylene. 

Many consumers mistakenly believe the tape can go in their recycling bin. As well as certain types of wrapping paper are also non-recyclable, meaning that these Christmas waste streams heading for landfill or incineration.

Mark Hall, communications director at, says: ‘We have a very real responsibility to consider the impact millions of rolls of non-recyclable plastic have on the environment every year.’

String or ribbon?

Hall points out there are alternatives to this ‘sticky’ problem. As well as biodegradable tapes, which can also cause problems if mixed with other recycled materials, people can use traditional string or ribbon methods.
And he argues that shoppers who want to be thrifty as well as environmentally conscious could consider giving gifts which don’t require any wrapping, such as concert tickets, charity donations or experience days.

Editor’s tip

Try the crush test: if your wrapping paper springs back after being crushed it is almost certainly not recyclable.

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