Wondering if wax paper can be composted? This ultimate guide to composting wax paper answers all your questions about when it's okay to toss it in the compost bin (and when it's not!) and provides some eco-friendly ideas to cut back on your wax paper use.

crumpled wax paper in a compost bin

Are you looking to take your sustainable kitchen to the next level? Us too! There are so many things to consider to make sure your kitchen is eco-friendly, all the way down to the wax paper you use and whether or not you compost it.

πŸ‘‰ Whether you compost wax paper depends on the material used to coat it. Wax paper coated with petroleum-based additives is not suitable for composting. However, wax paper made with soybean or vegetable oil wax is safe to add to your compost pile. Compared to other ingredients, wax paper can take a long time to break down.

To know if you can compost your wax paper, you must first know what ingredients it contains, how it decomposes, and when to avoid adding it to the compost.

Ready to learn about whether you can throw wax paper in the compost bin? Let's do it!


❓ What is wax paper?

Wax paper is paper that has been made to be moisture-proof with a wax coating. It's a common kitchen supply, often used for wrapping food and storing it in the fridge or freezer. It's sometimes used to line pans when making certain food items that will not be going in the oven, such as fudge.

The non-stick and water-resistant properties of wax paper are what make it a staple kitchen item in many households. It can be cleaned easily and reused several times for storage or lining counter tops when rolling out baked goods, like pie crusts and bread.

What makes wax paper different from parchment paper is that it's used for cold applications, while parchment paper is typically used for hot applications like oven-baking.

Types of Wax Paper

There are a few different types of wax paper, some of which are more eco-friendly than others. The differences between them are the types of wax that are used, which are described below:

  • Paraffin wax: can be made from coal, petroleum, shale, or vegetable oil – the most common type of wax paper that you'll find at the store.
  • Soybean wax: vegan and sustainably sourced. Good option for businesses that use a lot of wax paper, but need to remain cost-effective.
  • Beeswax: eco-friendly option, designed with reusability in mind. Tends to be more expensive than other wax paper options, but lasts the longest.
side view of a roll of wax paper on a countertop

🌱 Does wax paper decompose in compost?

Wax paper is okay for you to add to your compost in some instances. Before adding it to compost, you should find out what type of wax that it's coated with.

If your wax paper is covered in petroleum wax, it can not be composted, as the chemicals can harm the bacteria and will be very difficult to break down. On the other hand, wax paper coated with vegetable oil, soybean oil, or beeswax can be composted.

Wax paper made with organic materials takes 2-4 weeks to break down in compost, however it can take longer depending on the type of wax used. For the best results, the carbon to nitrogen ratio of your compost pile should be maintained, which you can accomplish by making sure it includes a variety of green and brown materials.


πŸ’¦ Can bleached wax paper be composted?

Paper often goes through a bleaching process before it is waxed, which removes its brown color, making it white.

Although bleached wax paper can be composted, the chemicals (such as chlorine) used during this process could have detrimental effects on the environment.

For this reason, we recommend purchasing unbleached wax paper when necessary. It can be difficult to find, so beeswax paper is your best bet if you're looking for something that can be composted and is free of harmful chemicals.

overhead view of a compost bin filled with used wax paper

πŸ’‘ Other ways to dispose of wax paper

If you aren't able to compost your wax paper, the next step is to find a different eco-friendly way to use it. Unfortunately, wax paper can not be recycled due to its water resistant coating. Here are a few ideas to use wax paper with sustainability in mind:

  • Reuse wax paper several times. Before disposing of wax paper, you should use it as many times as possible. This will decrease the amount that you end up throwing out. Simply clean the paper after each use. You can use it for many cold storage purposes, such as wrapping sandwiches or saving baked goods in the freezer.
  • Reduce the amount of wax paper that you use. If you want to cut back on waste from wax paper, this is the best way to do that. Instead of using wax paper, you can store foods in glass containers that can be used over and over again. Reusing empty food jars for storage is another great option.
  • Throw it in the trash. We recommend this as a last resort. The good news is that wax paper is biodegradable, so it will end up breaking down eventually even in a landfill. However, when you think about the collective use of wax paper, it's not the most earth-friendly option.

Here at Fork in the Road, we recommend trying to reuse your wax paper as much as possible (or not using it at all). This is key to building a sustainable kitchen and saves you money in the long run.

compost bin on a counter filled with crumpled wax paper

♻️ More zero waste kitchen + composting tips

Want more tips for going green in the kitchen? We've got you covered with these sustainable kitchen guides:

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