Parchment paper is a commonly used baking paper that gives you a non-stick surface to bake your goodies. Most cooking and baking buffs recommend using parchment paper instead of foil due to the toxicity that could leak out from aluminum foil when it heats up in the oven or while cooking.
However, the question is this: can parchment paper be compostable or biodegradable? And if so, how should we compost it?
Generally, parchment paper is made with food-grade ingredients since it is meant to be used as a baking or cooking aid. However certain parchment paper brands have different processes and materials that could alter their eco-friendliness.
To help you figure out whether parchment paper is compostable or not (and the corresponding way to compost it properly), read our article below to find out more.
Is Parchment Paper Biodegradable?
Yes, generally, parchment paper is biodegradable. However, that depends on their manufacturer, as not all parchment paper is made equally. Some of these baking papers aren’t exactly biodegradable if they have chemical processes and other materials that don’t make them eco-friendly.
For example, if the parchment paper is bleached, that means it won’t be purely biodegradable and could harm the environment. Bleaching processes cause the following inconveniences to the environment:
- It increases water usage. Bleaching anything, such as paper or cloth, will result in excessive water usage. This water could have been used for drinking, cooking, and irrigating food crops that will directly benefit humans. Wasting water resources will result in scarcity in the future.
- We spend a lot of energy. As a manufacturing process, bleaching requires a lot of electricity. If this electricity was spent on something else that’s more beneficial to the environment, to plants, to animals, and humans as a whole, we could have put it to better use.
- Natural resources get depleted fast. Trees in the wild, as well as plants, won’t grow properly if their soil is filled with toxic chemicals that come from bleaching processes. Therefore, by minimizing the bleaching process, our trees, plants, and other natural resources would be safe from harm and will grow healthier.
Likewise, if we harvest crops that we consume, such as fruits and vegetables, they will be safe from such chemicals. This will help us to live healthier and it will also cause less impact to the animals that will eat these crops.
- We send out a lot of air emissions. If parchment paper gets bleached, that adds an extensive amount of carbon emissions. Factories spend a lot of energy in manufacturing items in mass production so that also adds to their carbon footprint.
If we could take out the entire bleaching process when manufacturing parchment paper, we could eliminate or somehow lessen the carbon footprint that’s caused by these companies. Fortunately, many parchment paper companies today make chlorine-free products.
- Our wastewater quality decreases. When bleach gets into our wastewater, it ends up in the ocean and causes water pollution. Eventually, it would cause harm to marine life and even as simple as river fishes and the like.
- Animals and ecosystems get affected. The harsh chemicals that come from bleach would affect animals and ecosystems. Because bleach ends up in wastewater and goes into bodies of water, such as the oceans, it will cause danger to marine animals. This would also affect fishes that we consume.
Moreover, bleach contains a chemical known as dioxin, which is highly toxic to humans, animals, and plants. Here are some of its bad effects:
- They cause cancer in humans
- Messing up with human hormones
- Immune system damage
- Problems with reproductive systems in humans
- Skin problems and lesions
- Birth defects in animals
- Developmental problems in animals
Can you Compost Parchment Paper?
As mentioned above, parchment paper varies in raw materials and the process to make them, so there is not a specific answer. All parchment paper is different from each other and some have a little bit more non-biodegradable materials than the other, which makes them less of a candidate for composting.
With that said, parchment paper, even if most companies say that it is compostable, isn’t a popular item to throw into the compost bin. That’s because most people don’t know or aren’t aware of the materials used in making them since they are a special kind of paper used for baking.
Some companies have made their baking sheets or parchment paper to be compostable, slowly replacing their regular materials with more eco-friendly ones. However, if you do come across the wax paper, it won’t be a compostable or biodegradable material since it has wax. When left in a composting bin, you are likely to find smaller pieces of wax paper so it is not that effective.
As a general rule, any kind of baking paper that has non-stick materials such as silicon or any kind of coating is not ideal for composting due to its composition. With that said, parchment paper composting is not impossible. Unless the parchment paper is entirely made of eco-friendly material, it will be a slightly difficult process to completely degrade the parchment paper when you put it in the compost bin.
Parchment paper that’s cut into smaller parts has a better chance of decomposing easily. Although this adds more work to you, it will be worth it when you do the extra effort into trying to compost the parchment paper that you used for your baked goodies.
How to Compost Parchment Paper
Composting parchment paper is relatively easy – just place it in your green bin or into your composting bin. Make sure that the parchment paper is divided or torn into smaller pieces. That’s because a bigger piece of parchment paper will degrade even slower as it is not technically a very organic material due to the inclusion of silicone that makes it non-stick.
If you aren’t sure how to compost parchment paper, you can either contact your local composting facility or you can ask the manufacturer of the parchment paper directly. Fortunately, many companies nowadays make their parchment paper compostable, either in a facility or at home.
Which Parchment Paper is Compostable?
If you are wondering which companies sell compostable parchment paper, here are some of them:
A known household name, Reynolds has been serving kitchen busybodies for a long time. Their parchment paper rolls have been certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) as responsibly-sourced so they won’t impact the environment.
The process of making their parchment paper involves zero chlorine and the fiber that’s used to making them is unbleached. This means that the parchment paper gives out little to no harsh chemicals when you dump it in a landfill near a river or body of water. Aside from that, the recycled paper board is used for their packaging to ensure sustainability and lessening the waste that goes into the landfill.
However, there’s a small catch: you need to take the Reynolds parchment paper to a commercial facility to compost it. Doing your compost work in your backyard won’t do the trick since it needs to be at a certain temperature to decompose on its own.
If You Care
Made with TCF (totally chlorine-free) paper, If You Care’s parchment paper is also a favorite among baking enthusiasts. Since it doesn’t use chlorine as part of its process, it will not impact bodies of water, such as rivers, streams, and lakes, helping the ecosystems to become stable and toxin-free.
Aside from being unbleached, this parchment paper is also USDA-certified, FSC-certified, and was not tested on animals. Because it is compostable, it will help the environment while also aiding your kitchen needs.
Their grease-proof parchment paper used no bleaching so it is eco-friendly. Although it requires a bit of a learning curve when cutting the paper (you may need scissors), it’s still a great parchment paper to consider if you want to go green.
Is Parchment Paper Safe for the Environment?
Parchment paper is only safe for the environment when it has not been treated with bleach and if it doesn’t contain chlorine and other harsh chemicals. Although parchment paper is food-grade since it is used for baking, similar to wax paper, it is compostable with proper handling.
With that said, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions or local guidelines on composting parchment paper to ensure that you aren’t letting out harsh chemicals into the environment.
To wrap it up, parchment paper is more than just a kitchen aid – it is also an eco-friendlier way of baking and preparing food since it is compostable with the proper method. Whether the company advised it to be compostable in a backyard or a composting facility, there are ways to give your parchment paper a new purpose as soil nutrients.
Always remember to check with the manufacturer if you do want to compost it. That’s because bleached parchment paper isn’t safe for the environment. Fortunately, the two companies we mentioned above have unbleached parchment paper so they won’t impact the ecosystems and rivers.