Wax paper is a disposable product made from petroleum and organic material. It’s commonly used for lining cookie sheets, waxing skis, and even some food storage and sandwich packaging. Wax paper has benefits and drawbacks, but what about its impact on the environment? Is wax paper bad for the environment?
Before we get into the environmental effects of wax paper, it’s important to understand what makes up this common household item. Wax paper is made by coating paper with paraffin wax, a petroleum product that consists of waxes. It’s also treated with mineral oil to give it its glossy surface.
Table of Contents
- Is wax paper biodegradable?
- What is wax paper made of?
- How is wax paper made?
- How does wax paper affect our environment?
- How does wax paper affect wildlife?
- Is wax paper toxic?
- What are the best alternatives for petroleum-based wax paper?
- Is there soybean wax paper?
- Is there vegetable oil wax paper?
- Is wax paper recyclable?
- How should we dispose of wax paper properly?
- How much wax paper is consumed globally?
- Is Wax Paper Bad for the Environment?
- Final Thoughts
Is wax paper biodegradable?
Wax paper is not compostable and biodegradable. It can be recycled, but it will not decompose in a landfill or composting facility. Since wax paper is typically used for disposable purposes, it’s likely important to avoid using the product to reduce the amount of waste you contribute to landfills.
When contacted about their products, one wax paper producer said about half of their products now contain recycled wax paper material content. This is a step in the right direction for those seeking to reduce their environmental impact, but studies suggest waxed paper should not be used for food storage since it’s easily contaminated by other substances.
See Related: Is Parchment Paper Compostable?
What is wax paper made of?
Wax paper is made from a combination of paraffin and mineral wax. The paper is treated with these substances thru wax coating to give it the glossy, colorful appearance that has been associated with food since at least the early 1900s.
See Related: Most Eco-Friendly Baseboard Heater
How is wax paper made?
Wax paper begins as regular white paper and is first treated with a mixture of paraffin wax and mineral wax. The mixture is heated up and then the coated paper is run over rollers to spread out the wax which cools it down. Chemical treatment on top of this gives wax paper some glossy shine as well as resistance against water and oil.
The recycled wax paper must be sorted by color and cleanliness before it can be recycled again.
Wax paper has been used in the United States since 1871, but its popularity really took off with the invention of waxed paper cups in 1912.
These small containers were ideal for tea, coffee, chocolate milk, and other beverages that would be served on the go. Wax paper cups were used until the late 1930s when plastic-lined paper cups became more popular.
See Related: Best Compost Bags
How does wax paper affect our environment?
Although wax paper can be recycled, this is not a good enough reason to keep using the product. Wax paper requires a large amount of energy and petroleum products to produce, so it’s environmentally beneficial to switch from wax paper to less harmful alternatives.
While wax paper can be recycled, it may not end up in a facility that recycles it. While milk jugs and soda bottles are typically reused to make new products, waxed paper is more likely sent to a landfill where it will sit for hundreds of years before decomposing.
The use of petroleum products like paraffin wax needed to create waxed paper is also harmful to the environment. Oil spills and gas flaring caused by oil companies are extremely dangerous, so using wax paper only adds more fuel to this fire.
See Related: Best Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags
How does wax paper affect wildlife?
Waxed paper is not biodegradable and is likely to contribute to petroleum pollution in the environment, which can affect wildlife just as much as it affects us. For example, oil spills often kill thousands of sea birds, turtles, fish, and other marine life that come into contact with this toxic substance.
If you haven’t already switched to reusable wax paper alternatives, now is the time to do so. It’s easy to find non-toxic options that are much better for the environment. Cloth napkins and parchment paper both make great options to reduce your use of waxed paper products.
See Related: Environmental Consequences of Fracking
Is wax paper toxic?
While wax paper is a petroleum product, it does not contain any toxins.
However, the ingredients found in paraffin wax may be harmful to humans and wildlife if ingested or exposed to long-term. The main ingredient of paraffin wax is polyethylene, which has been shown to cause respiratory problems when inhaled.
It is not toxic itself, but its ingredients are harmful to humans and wildlife.
It can be recycled, but it’s best to avoid using the product in the first place to reduce your contribution to petroleum pollution. It’s also important to remember that wax paper is not biodegradable so it will not decompose fully once thrown away.
See Related: Best Posters on Saving Earth
What are the best alternatives for petroleum-based wax paper?
Soybean wax paper is a great alternative to petroleum-based paraffin wax paper. It’s made from 100 percent soybean wax and designed for food use.
The vegetable wax paper uses a blend of pure vegetable oil and paraffin wax instead of petroleum by-products. This product does not require any additives during its production and can be recycled in your home recycling bin with the rest of your paper products.
Cloth napkins and parchment paper are reusable wax papers alternatives that can help reduce waxed paper waste.
See Related: Best Solar Tiki Torches
Is there soybean wax paper?
Yes, soybean wax paper is a more environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based paraffin wax paper. It’s made from 100 percent soybeans and designed for food use. Since it doesn’t contain paraffin wax or mineral oil, this product does not require any additives during its production.
Soybean wax paper can be recycled in your home or office paper recycling bin.
See Related: How to Make Home More Energy Efficient
Is there vegetable oil wax paper?
Yes, vegetable oil wax paper is another more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional waxed paper. Unlike soybean waxed paper, this product uses a blend of pure vegetable oil and paraffin wax instead of petroleum by-products.
Since this product contains no mineral oils or other additives, it can be recycled in your home recycling bin with the rest of your paper products.
See Related: Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks
Is wax paper recyclable?
Yes, wax paper can be recycled in your home recycling bin, but it’s important to remove the food residue and hydrogen peroxide before placing it in the bin. Hydrogen peroxide is often used to make wax stick better to foods like cheese and meat, and this residue can contaminate other recyclables in your bin.
To avoid contaminating the rest of your recycling, remove any food that’s stuck to waxed paper before recycling it. If you don’t have access to a recycling facility that accepts waxed paper, consider composting the product instead.
While wax paper may not seem as harmful as other household waste, it should not be used to reduce our environmental impact. It requires a large amount of energy and petroleum products during manufacturing, yet it usually only has one single-use application before ending up in a landfill.
Wax paper can be recycled, but this is not enough motivation for customers to use the product when other options are less harmful to the environment. If you want to be responsible for your environmental impact, choose products that are more sustainable like soybean or vegetable oil wax paper.
See Related: Best Compostable Mailers
How should we dispose of wax paper properly?
Recycle wax paper at home or take it to a recycling facility that accepts waxed paper.
The best way to dispose of wax paper is to recycle it through your local recycling service.
Some recycling services do not accept waxed paper, so you may have to find a different disposal method if your service doesn’t accept the product.
If you do not have access to a recycling service that accepts waxed paper, consider composting the product instead.
See Related: Best Erosion Control Products
How much wax paper is consumed globally?
Waxed paper is a common household material in many countries and it’s estimated that more than 1.4 million tons of wax paper are consumed globally each year.
Waxed paper is used to wrap foods and reduce messes, so it’s a common household item in most nations around the world. In total, more than 1.4 million tons of wax paper are consumed globally each year.
See Related: Best Conservation Books
Is Wax Paper Bad for the Environment?
Cloth napkins and parchment paper are reusable wax paper alternatives that can help reduce waxed paper waste by allowing food to be wrapped in something more reusable than waxed paper. You can also compost waxed paper to reduce the impact it has on our environment.
If you want to be more environmentally responsible, choose products that are more sustainable like soybean or vegetable oil wax paper instead of traditional waxed paper.
See Related: Are brown paper Bags Compostable?
On the surface, it would seem so. It is created by coating a special type of paper with a petroleum-based wax, and while not every square foot of wax paper offgasses materials to the environment, there are all sorts of concerns about air quality due to burning these compounds in an enclosed space or from their high heat melting properties.
Studies have been done on wax papers’ effects on global warming potentials and how they rank on manufacturing pollution indices for various regions of the world. In general, it will depend on where you live and what types of substrates you work with to make a true determination as to if its safe for your area or not.
The general consensus at this time is that while wax paper may not seem as bad as other household waste, it should not be used to reduce our environmental impact.
Waxed paper requires a large amount of energy and petroleum products during manufacturing, yet it usually only has one single-use application before ending up in a landfill.
Wax paper can be recycled, but this is not enough motivation for customers to keep using it often, we should always try to find better alternatives instead of using petroleum-based paraffin products and dispose of our wax paper waste properly.