Is wax paper environmentally friendly?

Do you wonder if wax paper is good for the environment? If it is a good choice for your sustainable kitchen?

We look at how wax paper is manufactured, if it is compostable, how to properly dispose of it, and how to replace single-use wax paper with reusable alternatives.

Are you curious? Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What is wax paper?

Wax paper is a type of kitchen paper that is commonly used for wrapping and preserving food. It has a wax covering that makes it moisture-proof, and it’s a wonderful alternative to plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Wax paper’s nonstick and water-resistant qualities are what make it a must-have kitchen utensil. It is readily cleaned and may be reused for storage or lining counters for rolling out baked products such as pie crusts and bread.

Wax paper is comparable to parchment paper and is used in the kitchen in similar ways; however, it should not be used for hot applications such as baking (unlike parchment paper, which is fine for hot uses).

Wax paper is non-toxic because it has no hazardous chemicals such as plasticizers, UV stabilizers, or fire retardants. It’s also devoid of BHA, PVC, and BPA, which is beneficial to both individuals and the environment.

The majority of wax papers are biodegradable, and some may even be composted. While wax paper is not intrinsically harmful to the environment, the quantity discarded may pile up and build up in landfills.

Different kinds of food served on wax paper sheets
Wax paper can be used to store or serve different foods

How wax paper is made

Wax paper is created in the same way as ordinary paper is, but with the addition of wax to make it moisture-resistant. The wax is pushed into the paper fibers and utilized to cover the outer layers.

Thinner paper is generally better for waxing, and the process employed is determined by the thickness of the paper. Here’s a rundown of the three coating grades:

  • Wet-waxed: The wax coating is applied on both sides of the paper, usually by immersing it in a wax bath. In this application, the wax coating is continuous.
  • Dry-waxed: The wax is applied in layers to the sheet of paper using heated rollers.
  • Wax-laminated: The barrier is enhanced by integrating two substrates, such as foil or another type of paper, within the wax paper.

Although all types of wax paper are biodegradable, beeswax and soybean wax paper are more ecologically friendly and compostable.

Types of wax paper

There are several varieties of wax paper, some of which are more environmentally friendly than others. The difference between them is the type of wax used, which is detailed below:

  • The most common form of wax paper seen in stores is paraffin wax, which can be produced from coal, petroleum, shale, or vegetable oil.
  • Soybean wax is vegan and obtained responsibly. This is a good choice for firms who use a lot of wax paper yet need to keep costs down.
  • Beeswax: A generally eco-friendly alternative that is meant for reusability; however, it is not vegan because it is derived from animals. It is more costly than other types of wax paper, but it lasts the longest.

Wax paper is also available in bleached and unbleached varieties. Because the chemicals used in the bleaching process may be harmful to the environment, we recommend using unbleached wax paper when required.

Unbleached wax paper might be difficult to acquire, so beeswax paper is your best choice if you want something ecologically friendly with no chemical additions.

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How to dispose of wax paper

When it comes time to dispose of wax paper, consider whether you can reuse it first. Some methods of disposing of wax paper are more environmentally friendly than others, so it’s vital to think about how to make the most environmentally friendly decision.

Reusing wax paper

As long as you can clean it, wax paper may be reused numerous times. This is a wonderful method to reduce the amount of waste you produce. After each usage, clean the paper and store it in the refrigerator. Wrapping sandwiches and storing baked items in the freezer are two typical applications.

Reduce the amount of wax paper that you use

Simply minimize the amount of wax paper that you use to reduce waste. Glass containers and mason jars are excellent wax paper substitutes.

Throw wax paper in the trash

As a last option, you can dispose of discarded wax paper in the garbage. It will be disposed of in a landfill, but it is biodegradable and will degrade over time. When you consider how much wax paper is used in total, this is not the most environmentally friendly solution.

Is wax paper compostable?

In rare cases, wax paper can be added to your compost. Before you put it in the compost, you need to find out what kind of wax it is covered with.

If your wax paper is coated in petroleum wax, it cannot be composted since the chemicals can damage microorganisms and are difficult to degrade. Wax paper covered with vegetable oil, soybean oil, or beeswax, on the other hand, are compostable.

Wax paper created from organic materials decomposes in compost in 2-4 weeks, although it might take longer depending on the type of wax used. Maintain the carbon to nitrogen ratio in your compost pile using a variety of green and brown materials for the greatest results.

Waste wax paper thrown into a compost pile.
Some types of wax paper are compostable

Can bleached wax paper be composted?

Before being waxed, paper is frequently bleached, which eliminates the brown hue and turns it white.

Although bleached wax paper may be composted, the chemicals used in the process (such as chlorine) may be harmful to the environment.

As a result, when using wax paper, we recommend using unbleached wax paper. It can be tough to get, so if you want something that can be composted and is devoid of hazardous chemicals, beeswax paper is your best choice.

Is wax paper recyclable?

Unfortunately, due to its water-resistant coating, wax paper cannot be recycled. Instead of recycling, we advocate reusing or composting — or not using wax paper at all and instead choosing reusable food storage containers instead of single-use choices.

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