Unboxing 10 Facts About Holiday Recycling with Paper Packaging

Unboxing the Facts

With the holidays fast approaching, you may find yourself with more packaging products around than usual. The truth is, these boxes—old and new—are precious not only because they get your gifts where they need to go safely, but also because they can be reused and recycled. Check out these 10 surprising paper packaging facts to ensure you don’t waste the opportunity to make the most of paper packaging before, during and after the holidays.

  1. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25% in the U.S. Tip: When it comes to paper packaging, it’s easy to help curb this statistic by breaking down your e-commerce boxes and recycling them.
  2. In fact, as of 2021, 94% of Americans had access to community curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs. Tip: Before all of your holiday boxes even arrive, get a jump-start on holiday recycling by utilizing resources like Earth911 to discover recycling facilities near you.
  3. In 2022, 93.6% of all cardboard boxes and nearly 68% of paper consumed in the U.S. were recovered for recycling, which is one of the highest of any other material. Tip: As you begin checking off items on your gift list, consider the packaging of the products you’re purchasing and opt for products packaged in materials that are easy to reuse or recycle, like cardboard boxes.
  4. Ecommerce sales are predicted to increase 14.4% this year, reaching over $211 billion dollars. That is a total of almost 15% of all retail spending in the U.S. this year with a prediction of being 19.2% in 2024.
  5. When you encourage friends and neighbors to recycle, you can increase awareness around recycling, according to the Pew Research Center. Tip: Check out the EPA’s Municipal Government Toolkit for ideas around starting or improving local recycling programs.
  6. More than half of all consumers surveyed are starting their holiday shopping before November. Tip: Make the most of this retail holiday with a three-part game plan that includes a fail-safe gift list template, a curated selection of beautiful paper-based gifts and a plan for stashing all the boxes.
  7. If you’ve got shipping boxes no longer fit to ship, you can often reuse them before recycling them. Tip: Put the gifts you plan to hand-deliver inside these boxes and wrap them with kraft paper, which can also be crumpled up and placed inside boxes to provide additional cushion for gifts.
  8. Wrapping paper with embellishments like foil, glitter and cellophane, cannot be recycled. A good rule of thumb is if  you can scrunch it up and it stays scrunched up in a ball, it’s paper-based and can be recycled.
  9. Each year in the U.S., approximately 1.6 billion Christmas cards are sold. Many of these are recyclable. Tip: Avoid purchasing glossy or shiny cards to increase recyclability. For those that are shiny or foil-coated, cut off the front of the cards and reuse them as holiday postcards next year.
  10. All those stamped paper envelopes that were used to deliver holiday cards to your door are recyclable. Tip: Because the Postal Service uses a biodegradable adhesive in its stamps, you can effortlessly toss your holiday card envelopes into your recycling bin without peeling off any seasonal stamps beforehand.

Want more? Educate yourself about the nuances of recycling during the holidays on How Life Unfolds.