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How Is Wax Paper Recyclable – Eco Guide

You may have used wax paper at one time or another. Wax paper is a handy way to wrap sandwiches and can be used as a plate for messy foods, but the question remains, is wax paper recyclable? We need to think of the environment when we use something as seemingly trivial as wax paper.

Pollution, climate change and the depletion of natural resources are very real problems that we need to be aware of. In order to help the environment, we can recycle our trash and use reusable materials in place of disposable goods. We can ensure that our waste is not sent to landfills for hundreds of years. In that regard, it’s important to know whether you can actually recycle wax paper.

What is wax paper?

Wax paper is an impermeable sheet of paper coated with a layer of paraffin wax, a mineral oil product. The coating of wax makes it resistant to water or moisture as well as creates a non-stick surface. It is mainly used to keep moisture away from food. It can also be used to wrap sandwiches and other foods that need to be kept together.

Wax paper is often used in place of plastic wrap because it is less messy and more flexible, and it comes in a variety of colors.

Because of these qualities, it’s handy as a plate for messy foods like spaghetti, pulled pork sandwiches and wings. You have likely come across wax paper in the freezer section at your local grocery store or in the wrapping section at your pharmacy. There is also some for sale in the snack aisle at your local hardware store or you can find wax paper at most craft stores.

Is wax paper recyclable?

Wax paper is not recyclable and cannot be recycled. Wax paper, like some plastic and synthetic products, is made from a petroleum derivative called paraffin wax, which is not biodegradable. The wax coating on the wax paper in addition to its overall impermeability makes it difficult to recycle in your community’s curbside recycling program. It is not really practical for recycling materials that cannot be broken down for maximum effectiveness.

There is a good reason why wax paper cannot be recycled at the moment. It has a water resistant coating and the first steps of paper recycling involve shredding using water. The fact that it’s moisture resistant makes it impossible to break down the paper fibers with water. It can’t be processed by the same materials and equipment that are used to process regular paper.

Additionally, it’s usually covered with food residue. It can be difficult to rinse off the sticky food residues and debris. You don’t want residue from meat and cheese or greasy fry oil to contaminate the products that are made from recyclable paper.

Note: Contaminated paper isn’t accepted at recycling plants and the grease will most certainly not mix with water. These factors make it difficult to recycle wax paper.

The development and use of more effective recycling equipment, technologies and methods could possibly make recycling wax paper possible in the future. The majority of wax paper is used for wrapping foods that end up being thrown away.

Food wrappers make up about 20% of household waste which ends up in landfills. Recycling food wrappers would reduce fresh water contamination from landfill leachate. If the paper is not recycled, it will end up in the landfill and can take hundreds of years to break down.

How to reuse wax paper

Instead of throwing away wax paper, you can reuse it in a few ways as mentioned;

Arts and crafts

Wax paper can be used for arts and crafts. For example, you can cut it in half lengthwise to wrap gifts, put a ribbon through the hole, and then make a bow. Make a paper boat for your kids to play with.

Wrapping up messy items

Wax paper can be used as a plate or wrapping paper in place of plastic wrap while making pizza, hamburgers, stir fries and sandwiches. It will add a touch of elegance to your food without weighing down the food.

Remove limescale spots

Chalk, crayons and other colored inks can rub off on to ceramic and plastic surfaces. To remove the colorful marks, rub wax paper on to the surface. The wax coating on wax paper should help remove the stains. Alternatively, it can remove marks and stains on metal taps.

Loosen stuck zipper

Wax paper can be used to help loosen a stuck zipper. The wax coating on the paper helps to lubricate the teeth of the zipper and make it slide easier. Use a piece of wax paper, rub it on the zipper to reassure that there is enough wax on it, and then try opening and closing your zips.

Final Thoughts

Is wax paper recyclable? Unfortunately, no. The wax coating on the paper makes it difficult to break down in your community’s recycling program. But, you can reuse it for other purposes. You can use it as a plate or to wrap food items and it will add elegance to your food without weighing it down. It can also be used for arts and crafts, for removing marks and stains from ceramic pots, removing limescale and helping move a stuck zipper.


Is wax paper ok for the environment?

It is considered an environmentally friendly option to aluminum foil and other plastic wraps. It is considered to be better for the environment than a lot of other options because it can be reused.

Is wax paper recyclable?

No, wax paper is not recyclable at all because it is made from paraffin wax and it’s impermeable. The wax coating on the paper makes recycling impossible at the moment. Perhaps in the near future when recycling technology and methods improve, wax paper may be recyclable.

What is wax paper made of?

Wax paper is made from a petroleum derivative called paraffin wax which is a mineral oil product. The wax and the coating on it make it resistant to water or moisture.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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