Tag Archives: waxed paper

Waxed Paper: Is It Compostable?

Sometimes I read really deep into really specific things.  Although I don’t use wax paper at all, somehow I ended up spending a week or two emailing companies that manufacture it to ask what theirs is made of.

Soybean wax or paraffin?  Is the paraffin derived from vegetable oil or petroleum?

Every company I heard from used paraffin derived from petroleum, not vegetable oil.  Of the 7 companies I received a reply from, 5 used paraffin from petroleum and the other 2 used soybean wax (The companies that haven’t answered at all are Norpak and Marcal).

Of the replies I received, If You Care had a thorough explanation as to why they use soybean wax instead of petroleum.  More appealing than that was that their product is chlorine and bleach free, which I found was common in the other brands.

The only commentary I received from the other side, was that soybean wax is GMO while petroleum based paraffin is not.  The Natural Value brand has the added bonus that its waxed paper is unbleached.

So which is the better alternative, and does it really matter?  Does petroleum biodegrade?  I believe that it does, just not as easily as soybeans would.  Either way, wax repels moisture- it’ll be around for a little while.

I found an EPA study from 1997 showing success 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.

One of my favorite tests for composting stuff is to see how my worms like it.  They’re currently confronting a super old blueberry muffin wrapped in a piece of waxed paper.  Let’s see what happens there.

So here’s the results:

Waxed Paper Containing Paraffin:

Natural Value
Reynolds
Staples
Uline
Dixie Kabnet Wax

Waxed Paper Containing Soybean Wax:

If You Care
Ecocraft Dry Wax Deli Paper

My last point of curiosity was to look at how these companies rank on my favorite website, betterworldshopper.com .  Natural Value ranks highest amongst the paraffin users, while both If You Care and Bagcraft (Ecocraft) take their social and environmental responsibility quite seriously while sticking with soybean wax.

Well that was fun.  What are your thoughts on the topic?  Great companies produce the product on either side, so that’s good to know.  Which waxed paper type do you prefer?

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!

Worm Wonderings #1: waxed paper

For fun, I decided to add some materials that would break down eventually in a compost pile to my Worm Inn:

I decided to add a disgusting Jimmy John’s wrapper and also some little blueberry muffin cake things left over from Thanksgiving I forgot about.  Seriously messed up on that one- my mom makes killer food.  Sorry mom!  I’ll let you know if the worms like it.

On a side note, did you know that the majority of “paper” cups you see contain a plastic liner in them?  If your end castings seem to have bits of shiny plastic in them, and you put a paper cup or two in the worm composter, chances are the remnants are what’s left from the cups.  Crazy, right?  More info to come shortly…