The Tech Box

The Tech Box – December 2022

December 22, 2022

Recycling this Holiday Season

Corrugated cardboard boxes and other fiber-based packaging are recyclable, but the same is not true for all packaging you might come across this holiday season.

Whether you live in an urban or a rural area, you have options for where your waste ends up when you no longer have any use for it. Recycling and waste centers see a lot more waste this time of year. Even though most waste is recyclable, the profit margins do not exist for companies to go all in on recycling. Half of all 294+ million tons of waste generated in the United States ends up in one of the more than 2,600 landfills.

You can gift the corrugated packaging industry back this holiday season by recycling any corrugated cardboard boxes you receive because nearly all old corrugated containers (OCC) are used to make new paper products. But what about other gift packaging that's not so obvious? See below some common gift packaging and whether you can include it in your recycling bin this year.

  • Toy Packaging – Yes and No. Toy packaging is usually a mix of transparent thin plastics and paperboard. You'll need to separate the paper from the plastic - the paper is recyclable, but the plastic is not.
  • Wrapping Paper – Yes and No. Most recycling companies accept wrapping paper (both regular and glossy) or have special programs for collection and drop-off. Still, you'll have to check with your municipality or recycling center. Use this Earth911 link to search recycling options in your area if your recycling collector does not accept wrapping paper.

    Wrapping paper that is metallic, has glitter, plastic, or velvety flocking on it is not recyclable. Try reusing wrapping paper that isn't recyclable, or think about using reusable gift bags next year.
  • Ribbons and Bows – No. Ribbons and bows are not recyclable. Ribbons, like plastic bags, get stuck in conveyors or clog gaps meant to separate waste and can cause entire recycling lines to shut down. Make sure to reuse those ribbons and bows instead.

Need real-time recycling information for your community? The Recycling Partnership has launched a beta version of a chatbot featuring real-time answers for what's recyclable in your community.

If you are searching for even more recycling options for your holiday waste, check out Terracycle's website for companies offering recycling solutions for those hard-to-recycle items.<

Every little bit counts.

Chase Kammerer is the Technical Services Manager at Fibre Box Association (FBA). If you have technical questions about the corrugated industry, you can reach him directly at