Is Parchment Paper Environmentally Friendly

Is Parchment Paper Environmentally Friendly? (Explained)

Parchment paper offers some eco-friendly benefits, but it also has drawbacks.

This article explores the sustainability of parchment paper and whether it’s truly an environmentally conscious choice.

Is Parchment Paper Environmentally Friendly?

cooked shrimp on parchment paper
Image Credit: Conserve Energy Future

Parchment paper has some eco-friendly qualities but also raises some environmental concerns.

It is biodegradable but contains chemicals from processing.

Overall, parchment paper is considered one of the more sustainable options compared to other papers.

Key Points

  • Parchment paper takes 30-90 days to break down and is biodegradable
  • Some parchment papers use harmful chemicals during production
  • Compostable parchment paper made from wood pulp is more eco-friendly

Our Opinion

While parchment paper is better than some alternatives, we believe consumers should opt for unbleached, compostable parchment paper to reduce environmental impact. The chemicals used in processing standard parchment paper are concerning. Compostable options break down quickly without harming the planet.

Is Parchment Paper Recyclable?

parchment paper used for baking
Image Credit: Better Home & Garden

The good news is that parchment paper is biodegradable and compostable. It breaks down within 30-90 days, making it a more sustainable alternative to other disposable kitchen items. However, most parchment paper cannot be recycled due to its coating.

Look for unbleached parchment paper made from natural materials like wood pulp. This type of parchment paper is chlorine-free and avoids harsh chemical treatments. It’s fully compostable and can be added to your compost bin when it wears out.

In general, opt for parchment paper made from sustainable materials and free of toxic chemicals. While not recyclable, compostable parchment is an eco-friendly choice.

Is Parchment Paper Compostable?

paper composting
Image Credit: Zero Waste Memoirs

The good news is that most parchment paper is compostable. When disposed of properly, parchment paper will break down naturally in a compost bin or landfill within 1-3 months.

Look for parchment paper that is unbleached and free of toxic chemicals. This type of parchment paper is safe to compost at home. Avoid parchment paper containing poly coatings, as these can contaminate compost piles.

To compost parchment paper, simply place used sheets in your compost bin or pile. Make sure to bury the parchment under other compostable materials like yard scraps and food waste. This allows the parchment to break down fully. Within a few months, it will decompose leaving behind no toxic residue.

Composting parchment paper keeps it out of landfills. While not recyclable, compostable parchment is an eco-friendly choice over other disposable kitchen papers.

How Is Parchment Paper Made?

Parchment paper is made from natural materials like wood pulp and cotton. The pulp is soaked, pressed, and dried to create thin sheets.

Unbleached parchment paper is more eco-friendly. It skips the chlorine bleaching process which uses harsh chemicals. Opt for unbleached parchment free of dyes or coatings whenever possible.

Look for parchment paper made in facilities powered by renewable energy. Some brands use hydroelectric and solar power which reduces their carbon footprint. Choosing parchment paper made sustainably helps the environment.

While the production process does use resources like trees and water, the end product is reusable and compostable. Using parchment paper in place of aluminum foil or plastic wrap reduces waste.

With care, parchment paper sheets can be wiped clean and reused multiple times. Compost any sheets that are worn or soiled as an earth-friendly disposal method.

Parchment Paper vs. Wax Paper

Unlike wax paper, parchment paper is non-stick and heat-resistant. It can be used for baking at temperatures up to 420°F. The silicone coating allows food to be released easily.

Wax paper is coated with wax on both sides, while parchment only has a silicone coating on one side. The back side of parchment paper is fiber-based to make it non-stick.

When heated, wax paper will melt and smoke. Parchment is a safer choice for oven use. It produces no smoke at high temperatures.

Both parchment and wax paper are disposable, but parchment is more eco-friendly. It is chlorine-free and compostable, while wax paper contains paraffin wax.

Parchment tends to be more expensive than wax paper. However, its reusability makes it a good value. With care, the same parchment sheet can be used many times.

For baking, cooking, and grilling, parchment paper is the better option. It won’t burn or stick. Wax paper is only suitable for cold food storage.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Parchment Paper

Seeking a more sustainable solution? Here are some parchment paper alternatives to consider:

  • Silicone baking mats provide a non-stick surface that can be washed and reused hundreds of times. They withstand temperatures up to 480°F.
  • Unbleached brown paper is compostable like parchment but doesn’t contain silicone. It works for baking cookies and roasting veggies.
  • Teflon sheets are reusable and can replace parchment for some recipes. However, they are not biodegradable.
  • Aluminum foil can substitute parchment for grilling or baking pies. Recycle foil after use.
  • Greaseproof paper is an uncoated option made from natural fibers. It’s a good choice for lining cake pans.
  • Wood, bamboo, or reusable silicon cupcake liners skip single-use paper. These eco-friendly liners can be washed and reused.

Opting for reusable materials like silicone or aluminum is an easy way to avoid single-use paper waste. With some creativity, there are many alternatives to parchment that are better for the environment.


Is parchment paper eco-friendly?

Parchment paper has eco-friendly qualities, such as being biodegradable and compostable. However, some types contain harmful chemicals from processing. It’s recommended to choose unbleached, compostable parchment paper made from wood pulp to minimize environmental impact.

Can I recycle parchment paper?

Most parchment paper cannot be recycled due to its coating. However, it is biodegradable and compostable, breaking down within 30-90 days. It’s best to opt for parchment paper made from sustainable materials and free of toxic chemicals.


Parchment paper, while having some eco-friendly attributes, also presents environmental concerns. It is biodegradable, takes 30-90 days to decompose, and is a more sustainable option compared to other disposable kitchen items. However, the chemicals used in its processing can be harmful. The best choice for consumers is unbleached, compostable parchment paper made from natural materials like wood pulp, which is free from toxic chemicals and can be composted at home. While parchment paper is not recyclable due to its coating, it remains an eco-friendly choice when compared to alternatives like wax paper.



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