We all have used it at one time or another – and it really does make life easier in so many ways! But is wax paper compostable? How about environmentally friendly? Is using it impacting your carbon footprint and causing more problems for our earth?
I dug in to find out everything I could about wax paper to help you decide if this is an item you want to use if you are opting for a more sustainable home.
Sometimes knowing what is recyclable or compostable is a challenge! One of our most popular posts is one about whether you can recycle pizza boxes or not! I was actually surprised about the answer on that one!
But – let’s know talk about wax paper – and with this one there is no clear cut answer and I am going to tell you why.
What Is Biodegradable vs. Compostable?
First, let’s clarify the difference between compostable and biodegradable.
Biodegradable is the ability of a material to completely break down and decompose into a more natural elements like water vapor or carbon dioxide by organisms like bacteria and fungi. Most items can be considered biodegradable although some items may take a lot longer than others to do so. Biodegradable products are normally made from sustainable materials or plant by-products.
Compostable is similar to biodegradable but the materials will be transformed into organic waste that can then act as nutrients for our earth. Compostable items are commonly items like food scraps, leaves, some papers and more. Many homeowners are starting to compost at home to create a more sustainable lifestyle.
Is Wax Paper Recyclable?
According to Earth911 you cannot recycle wax paper. Paper products are typically recycled using a water process and since wax paper is coated with wax – the water has a hard time penetrating it to break down the paper.
With that said – you may want to check with your local recycling center to see what their specific rules are on wax paper. Here in NJ I was not able to find any recycling centers that said we could recycle wax paper – so for us, throwing it away or composting it is the only option. But I have seen discussions on some forums where others said their local recycling center does in fact take wax paper.
Is Wax Paper Biodegradable?
Wax paper that utilizes paraffin wax is not biodegradable due to its petroleum base.
Wax paper that uses soybean wax is biodegradable.
Is Wax Paper Compostable?
There is no easy answer to the question is wax paper compostable! Some say yes, some say no.
In most cases it comes down to the type of wax that is being used on the paper.
Paraffin wax is the common option in most store bought wax papers and because this is a petroleum based wax we would NOT RECOMMEND composting it. It does not break down as easily and requires perfect conditions to do so. It is meant to be moisture resistant and composting requires water to break down the fibers – it is not a great condition for composting.
Soybean wax paper is a better option for composting because it does not contain petroleum, but you may find the wax takes much longer to break down than you expect.
How Is Wax Paper Made?
In case you are not aware of how wax paper is actually made I figured I would mention it! Wax paper is plain old paper that has been transformed to be waterproof with a special process that adds a thin layer of wax to it. This wax is usually either paraffin based (petroleum) or soybean based – and there lies the difference in whether it can be composted or not!
This layer of wax not only makes it water-resistant but also makes it nonstick – but important to note is that it is NOT heat resistant. so, you do not want to put this type of wax in the oven or over any heat.
Some wax paper may be bleached which is why it looks white – others are not and may be brown, the natural color. Both types of paper are in fact compostable without the presence of the layer of wax.
What Is Wax Paper Used For?
There are a lot of uses for wax paper – especially if you are a foodie. Below are a few common uses for wax paper:
- Freeze or refrigerate foods – many love it for sandwiches, cheeses and other simple leftovers
- Sifting or grating foods – because it is non-stick it makes it easy to roll right off the paper
- Packing a picnic basket – wrap you goodies in the wax paper for easy transport and clean up
- Lining a tray for baking where ingredients may need to be refrigerated or frozen
Can You Reuse Wax Paper?
You might be surprised to hear that you can reuse wax paper – and should if you can! If you are using it to sift, shape cookies or hold a sandwich – it can easily be wiped off and used again. Use a damp cloth to wipe off any excess food – let dry and reuse as needed!
Recommended Environmentally Friendly Wax Paper
If you are truly an EnviroMom and want to make sure that you are using a wax paper that is not only environmentally friendly – but healthy for your family, below is the most popular option to consider!