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Is Waxed Paper Recyclable or Compostable? Facts & FAQs

hand holding waxed paper

Waxed paper is one of those materials that can be quite confusing when it comes to disposal. While it is true that waxed paper isn’t compostable or recyclable, there are still ways to properly dispose of it.

This article will provide an overview of waxed paper, its disposal options, and the best practices for disposing of it.

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Understanding Waxed Paper and Recycling

Knowing what materials make up a particular product is key when attempting to recycle or compost something. Waxed paper is made from two main components: paper and wax.

The wax contains man-made additives that come from petroleum. That in itself makes waxed paper a poor choice¹ for recycling and composting. While the paper is recyclable, the wax coating is not. Therefore, it cannot be recycled or composted in its current form.

More to the point, the recycling process used for paper involves using water to break down the material. The wax coating simply renders this process impossible. The wax coating also prevents the paper from breaking down during composting, so it’s not suitable for that process.

It’s clear that recycling waxed paper isn’t an option. So how in the world are you supposed to dispose of it? To answer that question, let’s look at some of the other disposal options.

colored waxed paper

Disposal Options for Wax Paper

Since waxed paper can’t be recycled or composted, other options for disposal should be considered.

Disposal Options:
  • One option is to simply throw it away with the rest of your trash. But if you’re the type of person who likes to get as much mileage out of your materials as possible, you can reuse the waxed paper a few different ways.
  • A great way to get some extra use out of waxed paper is by reusing it in the kitchen. Wax paper can be used to wrap up sandwiches, store leftovers, and even line baking trays. It’s also a great way to store your food for short periods.
  • Aside from food-based purposes, the waxed paper also makes a great fire starter¹. Simply crumple up the paper into a ball or fold it into a tight square and light it with a match. The wax will help fuel the fire, giving you an easy and convenient way to start a campfire or fireplace. This is because waxed paper is highly flammable—the thin wax coating and synthetic additives burn quickly. While this makes it great for starting fires, it also makes it important to handle with caution. Be sure that you store waxed paper away from any heat sources and dispose of it in a fire-safe manner.
  • Some people like to use waxed paper to store breakables and other fragile items. This is a great way to avoid getting dust and dirt on those items. However, using waxed paper in this manner can be tricky because the wax coating doesn’t allow for airtight seals. This means that your items might still get exposed to some dust or moisture, so it’s important to consider that based on the type of items you’re trying to protect.
person disposing garbage
Image Credit: lovelyday12, Shutterstock

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Bottom Line

Waxed paper may not be compostable or recyclable, but there are still ways to get some use out of it before throwing it away. Reusing it in the kitchen, using it as a fire starter, or simply pitching it in the trash are all viable options.

Featured Image Credit: Denis Val, Shutterstock

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