Is Wax Paper Environmentally Friendly

Is Wax Paper Environmentally Friendly? (Explained)

Last Updated on September 12, 2023 by Krystine

Wax paper is often seen as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap. But is it really better for the environment?

This article explores the biodegradability and sustainability of different types of wax paper.

Is Wax Paper Environmentally Friendly?

roll of wax paper
Image Credit: Taste of Home

Wax paper can be environmentally friendly if it is made from biodegradable materials like soybeans or vegetable oils. However, wax paper made with paraffin wax or plastic coatings is less sustainable. The most eco-friendly wax papers are compostable and use renewable resources.

Key Points

  • Wax paper made from vegetable oils is biodegradable and compostable
  • Paraffin wax paper and plastic-coated wax paper are not sustainable
  • Wax paper cannot be recycled due to its coating

Our Opinion

As environmental experts, we believe wax paper is a good plastic wrap alternative if you choose an option made from organic vegetable oils that are compostable. Avoid wax paper made from paraffin wax or with plastic coatings. Look for compostable wax paper to reduce waste. With the right choice, wax paper can be an eco-friendly kitchen staple

Is Wax Paper Biodegradable?

wax paper
Image Credit: Conserve Energy Future

Whether wax paper is biodegradable depends on what it’s made from. Wax paper can be made from organic materials like soybean oil or other vegetable oils. These types of wax paper are completely biodegradable and even compostable.

However, some wax paper is coated with paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum. This type of wax paper is not biodegradable and contributes to pollution from fossil fuels. It also cannot be recycled due to its wax coating.

Wax paper made from tree pulp or other renewable resources can biodegrade, making it a better choice. The best option is wax paper made from plant-based oils like soybean or sunflower oil. This type of wax paper is non-toxic, biodegradable, and from a sustainable resource.

When choosing wax paper, look for ones marked as “biodegradable” or “compostable.” Avoid wax paper containing paraffin wax or other petroleum-based ingredients. The most eco-friendly wax papers will be made from plant oils or cellulose from trees.

While not perfect, biodegradable wax paper is better than plastic wrap for the environment. With some research, you can find wax paper wraps that are renewable and break down naturally.

What Is Organic Wax?

organic wax
Image Credit: Parissa

Organic wax refers to wax derived from plants, animals, or insects through natural processes. Common sources of organic wax include soybeans, sunflowers, beeswax, and carnauba palm leaves.

Organic waxes are biodegradable and renewable. They provide a natural alternative to petroleum-based waxes like paraffin. Organic waxes are non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

Soy wax is a popular organic wax made from hydrogenated soybean oil. It is clean-burning, biodegradable, and compostable. Beeswax is another common organic wax collected from beehives. It has a pleasant honey aroma.

Carnauba wax comes from palm leaves in Brazil. It is one of the hardest natural waxes and excellent for protective coatings. Other plant-based organic waxes include candelilla, barberry, and sunflower wax.

Overall, organic waxes provide a sustainable alternative to paraffin wax. They are made from renewable resources through natural processes. Choosing organic wax paper supports green businesses and reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

Is Wax Paper Compostable?

Whether wax paper is compostable depends on the type of wax used. Wax paper coated with petroleum-based paraffin wax is not compostable. The paraffin wax does not break down and can contaminate the compost.

However, wax paper made using organic waxes like soybean, beeswax, or carnauba palm wax can be composted. These plant and insect-derived waxes biodegrade naturally. The paper backing also breaks down easily when composted.

To ensure the wax paper is compostable, look for certification seals from organizations like the Biodegradable Products Institute or European Bioplastics. These certify the wax paper meets standards for biodegradation and compostability.

Compostable wax paper provides an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap for food storage. It serves as a protective barrier against moisture and oxygen while remaining breathable. When finished, it can break down fully in a compost pile or commercial composting facility.

By choosing compostable wax paper over plastic wrap, you can reduce plastic waste. However, it still takes resources to produce any disposable product. Reusable options like glass or stainless steel containers remain the most sustainable choice for food storage.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Wax Paper

While compostable wax paper is better than plastic wrap, reusable options are the most eco-friendly choice. Here are some green alternatives to consider:

Silicone baking mats provide a non-stick surface for baking and roasting. They withstand high temperatures and can be washed and reused repeatedly.

Beeswax wrap is a cotton fabric coated in beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. It creates an airtight seal around food and can be reused for up to a year.

Glass and stainless steel food containers keep food fresh while reducing plastic waste. They come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate different needs.

Cloth napkins or towels can replace wax paper for tasks like covering rising dough or wrapping sandwiches.

Tiffin stacking containers are stainless steel “lunch boxes” that reduce the need for disposable wrap. They keep food securely separated.

With a little creativity, you can find an eco-friendly alternative to wax paper for nearly any use. The most sustainable solutions eliminate waste through reusable products.

The Pros and Cons of Using Wax Paper

Wax paper offers some benefits, but it also has drawbacks to consider:


  • Wax paper is non-stick, making it useful for baking, food prep, and arts and crafts.
  • It’s moisture-resistant, so it can cover dough and other wet foods.
  • Wax paper is generally affordable and accessible.
  • It’s compostable, unlike plastic wrap.


  • Wax paper is not reusable, generating waste.
  • It contains petroleum-derived paraffin wax.
  • Wax paper can’t withstand high temperatures like silicone or foil.
  • It may leach chemicals into acidic or oily foods.

There are pros and cons to consider when deciding whether wax paper is the right choice for your needs. Eco-friendly reusable options may be better for the planet.


Is Wax Paper More Eco-Friendly Than Parchment Paper?

Wax paper is generally more eco-friendly than parchment paper since it can be made from biodegradable materials like soybean oil or other vegetable oils. Parchment paper contains silicone, which makes it non-biodegradable.

What Are the Disadvantages of Wax Paper?

The main disadvantage of wax paper is that it cannot be recycled due to its wax coating. Wax paper made from paraffin wax is also not biodegradable.

Is Wax Paper Recyclable or Compostable?

Wax paper cannot be recycled due to its wax, plastic, or silicone coating. However, some wax papers made from renewable materials like vegetable oils can be commercially composted.

Is Wax Paper Safer Than Plastic Wrap?

Yes, wax paper is generally safer than plastic wrap. It does not contain BPAs or phthalates like some plastics. Wax paper made from organic ingredients is also more environmentally friendly.


In conclusion, wax paper can be an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap or parchment paper, but it depends on the materials used to produce it. Wax paper made from renewable vegetable oils that can biodegrade is the most eco-friendly option. However, wax papers using paraffin wax or plastic coatings are less sustainable. When choosing wax paper, look for options made from organic ingredients that are compostable. Overall, wax paper is typically safer and greener than plastic wrap.

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