Can you compost waxed paper?

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about waxed paper lately, and trying to decide how I feel about composting it.  While I rare use the stuff, a lot of people do and it’s worth looking into.

I’m currently working on a survey (note: all done! click here) of all the manufacturers of the stuff, trying to categorize it the best I can for those of you working with it.

The main point of contention seems to be whether or not the wax is made from paraffin or soybean wax. What I’ve discovered is that soybean wax is rare in comparison to the number of companies using paraffin, and maybe you’ve read that vegetable oil is a source for paraffin.

Through further investigation, all the companies I’ve surveyed utilize paraffin derived from petroleum, not vegetable oil.  Hmmm.  Each time I receive that reply, it mentions something about “meeting FDA guidelines”.   Am I not alone in asking these questions?

Anyway, this upcoming week I’m going to publish a list of companies and their responses to their waxed paper contents.  Then I start to wonder, what is the concern with waxed paper?  It’s definitely a product that takes some time to break down, as wax repels moisture well, but it does compost eventually.

I found an EPA study from 1997 showing success with using compost to bioremediate soil contaminated with high levels of petroleum.  This was attributed to a fungi present in compost that releases a substance that breaks down petroleum, enabling bacteria to metabolize it.  I also found another EPA study that was supportive of contaminants degrading rapidly when compost was applied.

My hope is that I can provide a comprehensive list for those wondering about composting waxed paper and finding a product that meets their needs.  I must say, it was a lot of fun contacting all these companies about waxed paper!

Update: Here’s the list!

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