Wax paper is a common kitchen supply in many homes, institutions, and restaurants due to its efficient waterproofing that prevents sogginess in stored food. If you have plenty of used wax paper, you’re probably wondering if you can put it in your compost.
Wax paper that’s made of soybean wax or vegetable paraffin wax is biodegradable and therefore compostable. However, if you have wax paper that’s made of petroleum oil wax, do not throw it in your compost because it cannot be broken down by microorganisms.
Is wax paper compostable?
Not in the exact sense of the word because compost material should be organic and biodegradable.
To find out whether you can add used wax paper material to your compost, you’ll have to find out the exact raw materials used by the manufacturer of the brand of wax paper you have.
The paper itself is biodegradable because it is made from wood. It is the coating that will determine whether or not you can put it in your compost. If the wax paper is coated with soybean wax, then, yes – your wax paper is compostable.
Soybean is a plant, which makes soybean wax organic and decomposable. Still, bacteria may struggle to break down soybean wax, or any other kind of wax- for that matter.
Vegetable oil-based paraffin wax is compostable too. Therefore, if you have vegetable wax paper, you can go ahead and add it to your garden compost.
Petroleum-based paraffin wax is inorganic and should never be included in a garden or compost.
|Type of wax coating||Is it compostable?|
|Vegetable oil-based paraffin wax||Yes|
|Petroleum-based paraffin wax||No|
Is wax paper biodegradable?
According to EuroWaxPack, organic wax paper meets up to 90% of their relative biodegradability requirements (EN- 13432).
A basic rule of gardening is to make sure you put organic material only in your garden and compost. So, even if you have used tea bags and you want to compost them, you have to check if the materials that made them are 100% organic.
How long does it take to decompose?
Organic wax paper takes between two-four weeks to decompose. In fact, organic wax paper has the same decomposition rate as that of plant leaves.
See also: What plants like coffee grounds?
Best Ways to Dispose of Wax Paper
The best way to dispose of your used wax paper is to send it to a waste recycler. Wax paper possesses a high calorific value when incinerated and thus can be an option for energy recovery.
What’s more, paper is one of the most recyclable of all packaging materials, and as such, wax paper waste can be recycled into corrugated boards.
If your wax paper is coated with petroleum-based paraffin wax, you may want to avoid adding it to your compost or dumping it illegally, since it’s non-biodegradable. Illegal dumping includes dumping in undesignated areas such as parks, playgrounds, and rivers.
The best way to dispose of your inorganic wax paper would be to dump it in your own household/ workplace waste bins- which are usually handed over to waste management service providers.
Licensed waste management companies sort out waste into organic, inorganic, and e-waste, in a process known as source separating.
They will then determine the best way to dispose of the wax paper, whether it be recycling or incineration in accordance with the recommendations of the relevant environmental sustainability authorities.
Check the materials used to make the wax paper to determine if it is biodegradable. If it is made of soybean or vegetable oil, you can put it in your compost.
Also, you may want to consider introducing mushroom spores to your compost to help with decomposition if you’ve added lots of organic wax paper waste to it. This is because microorganisms aren’t very good at breaking down wax- whether inorganic or organic.
Fungi like mushrooms, on the other hand, possess hyphae that excrete powerful enzymes that can break down wax into simple, digestible compounds. The spores will encourage the sprouting of mushrooms, which then disperse more spores all over your compost, thus improving the decomposition rate in your wax-laden compost.
Learn more on: PLANT FOOD AND COMPOSTING GUIDES
- St. Joseph Toy, Iowa State University: Effects of Paraffin Waxes on Growth and Physiology of Rose Plants
- Denver Recycling Directory: How to Recycle Parchment & wax paper
I am a registered nurse passionate about gardening and home improvement.
I have blogged about everything from Japanese knotweed to mushroom and fungi to edible flowers.
I help newbie gardeners find their footing in gardening.