The primary purpose for using wax paper has always been related to its non-stick properties. Wax paper has been in use for more than a century by now, and it’s been sold in rolls since the turn of the 20th Century.
Wax paper should not be recycled. It cannot be put through the normal recycling process which means it needs to be thrown away. Luckily, it is biodegradable so its impact on the environment is limited in the grand scheme of things.
At first, wax paper was paper coated in wax to make food less likely to stick. These days, the wax doesn’t just coat the paper, it is infused in the paper, which makes it more resilient to food. And that makes it more useful than ever. Of course, there is a downside to having a paper that doesn’t stick to things, which we will get to later.
The Importance of Sustainability
As our climate changes day by day, many of us are looking for something we can do to alleviate the pressure we put on our environment. And yet, when we make ourselves a sandwich or get ready to freeze leftovers, we go straight t the plastic bags, which are, for the most part, not very environmentally friendly.
Many experts think we all need to give greater consideration to the environmental effect of the things we use, especially the products we use once or twice and throw away. Our dumps and landfills have become clogged with plastic products that will essentially never decompose and will still be around long after our grandchildren are gone.
Instead of using plastic bags to wrap sandwiches and leftovers, this might be a good time to go back in time a few decades, to the time when people wrapped things in wax paper, rather than non-biodegradable plastic.
Is Using Wax Paper Practical?
One of the most appealing characteristics of wax paper comes with the fact that it tends to be non-stick. That is why it has historically been used in cooking. Often, it’s important to prevent food from sticking to surfaces.
That is one reason the number of uses for wax paper is so impressive. For example, Wax paper is used to line dishes that must go into the refrigerator or freezer, and it is used when making food that has to be set through chilling, like chocolate fudge. It is also used often by candle makers for the same reason.
A lot of people really like to lay down wax paper on counters, to protect them. They are especially useful for chefs and bakers who work in professional kitchens. Wax paper is especially useful when kneading and rolling out the dough for pies and cookies, which can be sticky and messy to make at times.
Other major uses for wax paper comes with its usefulness in packing and food. For more than a century now, parents have used wax paper to wrap their kids’ lunches, and wax paper is also a useful alternative for covering bowls of salad and fruit and to wrap foods, including leftovers, for the refrigerator or freezer.
In some cases, people simply find wax paper more attractive than other types of wrappers or liners, so they use it to line trays of appetizers. Others use wax paper when sifting flour or sugar or grating cheese because it tends not to stick and it’s easier to transfer into bowls or other dishes.
Is Wax Paper Recyclable or Not?
Wax paper that is thrown out in the regular garbage is biodegradable, which gives it an advantage over the use of plastic sheets and bags. And it’s a good thing because wax paper does not go into the recycle bin, like office paper or newspaper.
In a way, the reasons are based on habits we have picked up from using wax paper for more than a century. Most of us think of wax paper as “garbage paper.”
That means, we have largely used wax paper and learned to simply throw it in the garbage, as a matter of habit. Most people don’t even consider setting it aside for recycling.
Of course, it’s not all our fault. The fact of the matter is, wax paper is next to impossible to recycle. You’ll note that wax paper has a different feel and texture from toilet paper or paper towels. That’s because it’s coated with wax. These days, the paper is completely infused with wax; hence the name.
Why is Recycling Wax Paper So Difficult?
Paper materials are usually easy to recycle, but one of the key elements of recycling regular paper is dissolving the paper in water, and wax paper doesn’t dissolve in water because the wax prevents the water from penetrating it. And if wax paper can’t be dissolved into small pieces, it can’t be used to make other products.
Wax paper is also commonly used for cooking, which means a lot of it is covered with all sorts of kitchen-based liquids, including oil and grease. The grease and oil are especially difficult problems, since, as we all know, oil and water don’t mix.
That’s why recycling centers usually refuse wax paper, especially if it’s covered in garbage. It’s too difficult and just short of impossible to recycle under the best conditions, but after it’s been used and it’s covered in oil and/or grease, it becomes necessary for them to separate it and treat it specially, which is usually impossible.
What Can I Do With Wax Paper That is Environmentally Friendly?
In most cases, recycling paper is pretty straightforward and easy. However, we have to just face it; the process for recycling paper makes recycling some things, like dirty or soiled paper, wax paper, or even pizza boxes pretty much impossible.
Therefore, if you buy wax paper with the idea of recycling it so you can save the planet, think again. Either buy another type of paper or food liner in the first place or just get used to the idea that it can’t be recycled. However, it’s still a better choice than plastic because it will eventually decompose.
Wax paper belongs to the category of “mixed paper,” which puts it into the same category as food-contaminated paper, waxed cardboard, like milk and juice cartons, oil-soaked paper, pet food bags, and plastic-coated paper, like fast food containers.
That means your choices for wax paper are to reduce and reuse. Those are still excellent choices for saving the planet.