The December holidays are almost upon us! With early festive shopping sprees and online shopping deliveries, you might find yourself with more paper packaging than you know what to do with. For many of us, the December break is a time to declutter. It’s also a great time to assess our waste footprint and recycling habits. In 2018, South Africa recovered 1,285 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging – that’s nearly 1,3 million tonnes of stuff that didn’t end up in a landfill. So do your bit this December and get sorting, separating, and recycling.
Here are 12 easy ways to recycle paper this Christmas
1. If you’re making lists and checking them twice, don’t forget to be nice and recycle them.
2. You know those magazines that you’ve kept for a rainy day … for the past five years? It’s probably time to recycle them.
3. Flatten online shopping boxes and put them out for recycling.
4. Check your cupboards for all the shoeboxes you’ve kept ‘in case you might need them one day’. Flatten them and pop them into the recycling bin. You could also use them to sort your clutter – old photos, receipts or your kids’ art.
5. Label a few large boxes with Keep, Donate, Sell, Recycle or Dispose to guide you through the decluttering process.
6. Did you know that if you scrunch up gift wrap in a ball, it’s paper-based and can be recycled? You can also do the tear test – if it tears easily and doesn’t have a layer of plastic, it is recyclable. Avoid using wrapping paper with foil, cellophane, plastic coating or glitter. Brown kraft paper decorated with string and a few small pine cones can look just a pretty as fancy wrapping paper.
7. Re-use paper gift bags and boxes, or swap them out with your friends. Just remember to check the labels and tags before you re-gift!
8. Christmas cards are less prevalent nowadays, with people preferring to wish loved ones on social media. While postage can be expensive, why not send a select few family members and friends some handmade or charity greeting cards? Many Christmas cards and their envelopes are generally recyclable; just avoid glossy or shiny cards. For those that are shiny or foil-coated, cut off the front and re-purpose them for next year. This is also where those old shoe boxes could come in handy!
9. Paper packaging is not limited to the common brown box. You can also recycle cereal boxes, cosmetic boxes, milk cartons, juice cartons, and paper cups. Place smaller recycling bins around the house – bathroom, study and kitchen – and resolve to recycle more. You could even repurpose cardboard boxes for this!
10. Not sure what to do with your recycling? Check out recyclepaper.co.za.
11. Separate non-paper material from paper-based packaging before recycling.
12. Paper isn’t the only recyclable material. Don’t forget to recycle plastic, glass, and tin, all of which are also widely recyclable in South Africa. Check out Treevolution’s comprehensive guide for more information.
Article by RecyclePaperZA, a sub-association of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA)