Can You Compost Parchment Paper? (If Yes, Then How?)

Gourmet or novice – we all become sous-chef as soon as we don the apron. And being the maestro we think we are, we all use that one thing that has become indispensable; parchment paper. From starting the mise en place for the dessert to covering kitchen countertops, Parchment Paper has made everything trouble-free.

Since parchment paper has become a must-have in the kitchen, you must wonder if you can use it outside the kitchen. With the copious amount of parchment paper being used, can you do something with the used paper for your plants? How about composting it? Can you compost parchment paper? Let’s find out!

Yes, you can compost parchment paper; however, ensure that it is an unbleached one. Being a good source of Carbon, it serves as a brown material for the compost. Shred the paper into small pieces before adding it to the compost pile, and add water to expedite the process.

But what is this bakery paper people nowadays are so over-dependent on? First, let’s get a clear idea of what exactly you are composting.

What is Parchment Paper?

Parchment paper is a multipurpose paper best used in the kitchen for its non-stick and heat-resistant properties. It is used in cooking and baking (which is why it is also called baking paper) for various purposes like lining pans, wrapping food and baked goods, making piping bags for decorating, and many more.

It is made by running wood pulp, formed by obtaining cellulose fibers from fir trees, cotton, or flax, through a bath of sulfuric acid or zinc chloride. It is coated with silicone, formed from processed sand. This silicone coating gives it a non-stick and grease-resistant surface.

Well, paper and sand both are biodegradable. But that doesn’t make all parchment papers fit for composting. There are two different types of parchment paper, out of which only one is suitable for composting.

Parchment Paper in Baking Tray

Types of Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is of two kinds, namely bleached parchment paper and unbleached parchment paper. Bleached parchment paper is white and is chemically treated with chlorine to remove its natural brown color. In contrast, unbleached parchment paper is brown, harmless, and not treated with chlorine.

White Bleached Parchment Paper
Bleached Parchment PaperUnbleached Parchment Paper
Chlorine treatedChlorine-free
Eco-friendlyHarmful to the environment

So you know how brown parchment paper is different from the white, with the main difference being that white parchment paper is treated with chlorine.

White parchment paper releases dioxins due to the presence of chlorine, which prevents decomposition. This makes it unfit for composting as well as poses health-related risks. Therefore, you should only compost brown parchment paper.

Since it is clear which type of parchment paper to use for composting, it’s time to look into the composting method.

How to Compost Parchment Paper?

Parchment paper is a good source of Carbon and is, therefore, can be used as a brown material for the compost pile. While it is an easy process if you have an existing compost pile, here’s a step-by-step guide from scratch for you to refer:

Composting Newspapers Via Vermicomposting

Step 1: Shred the Parchment Paper

The first and foremost step is to cut the paper into small and narrow pieces. Shredding the paper will help accelerate the decomposition process.

Step 2: Add Brown Layer to Compost Bin

Brown layer is the layer of materials rich in Carbon. These include yard waste, newspaper, cardboard, pine needles, paper, sawdust, dead plant clippings, and other organic waste.

Step 3: Add Shredded Parchment Paper

Add shredded paper to the pile along with brown material.

Alternatively, you can add cut parchment paper without other browns if you just want to compost the baking paper alone. Cutting the paper will allow microorganisms to carry out the decomposition process easily.

Quick Tip: You can cut the paper and soak it in water before adding it to the pile. This will aid the breakdown.

Step 4: Add Green Layer

Add the Nitrogen-rich green layer, which includes organic material like grass clippings, coffee grounds, eggshells, tea bags, food scraps, pet hair, etc.

Step 5: Add Water Between the Layers

Add water between the greens and browns to maintain the moisture and gear up the decomposition process.

Step 6: Repeat the Process

Add greens, browns, and compostable parchment paper, followed by sprinkling water.

Step 7: Turn the Pile

For compost to come into action and work fast, turning the pile is essential. Yet you can still avoid turning while composting through the cold composting method and wait for some more time since it is a slow process.

Note: Remember to maintain the brown to green ratio as 2:1 for proper composting.

This process of composting parchment paper takes around six to eight weeks.

You can add parchment paper to your bokashi bin and carry out bokashi composting as well, or add it to the composting tumbler and give a nice spin to all the materials. Just add it with or instead of brown material, and your compost will be prepped!

So, the next time you are in the kitchen, save that baking sheet after showing off your en papillote skills and make compost out of it. And since you know the proper method, let’s check out the benefits of composting baking paper.

Benefits of Composting Parchment Paper

With a myriad of advantages of using parchment paper in the kitchen, composting this paper product also gives plenty of benefits.

Composting Parchment Paper
  • Eco-friendly: Composting unbleached parchment paper won’t cause any harm to the environment as it is chemical-free, ergo, biodegradable, and a perfect fit for the green bin or green cart.
  • Source of Carbon: Parchment paper contains Carbon and can be categorized under brown material for compost. 
  • Improves Structure: Adding brown bakery paper will help improve the compost’s structure, ultimately ameliorating aeration and water retention.
  • Reduces Landfill Waste: Using parchment paper instead of dumping it in the garbage will help utilize the carbon source, which was initially subjected to end up in landfills.
  • Decreases Carbon Footprint: Utilizing the used baking paper will contribute to minimizing carbon footprint.

Quick Tip: You can also take the benefit of using the box containing parchment paper. It is usually made up of cardboard, so just shred it into small pieces, and you have another source of brown material for your compost.

Well, this does motivate you to turn your cooking hand into a composting hand, too, right? However, with this list of advantages, there are certain disadvantages of composting bakery paper.

Disadvantages of Composting Parchment Paper

Not to forget, the parchment paper you plan to compost will first be used in the kitchen, which can cause a bit of a problem.

Oily Food on Parchment Paper

1. Food Contamination: Using bakery paper in the kitchen will cause food waste residues, oils, and grease to stick to the surface, ultimately leading to the deterioration of the quality of the parchment paper. 

Composting this paper will not fulfill the purpose, and you should ensure there’s no solid waste stuck to the paper before adding it to the pile.

2. Time-Consuming: Composting parchment paper is time-consuming since the silicone layer on the paper acts as a barrier for microbes, and this causes a delay in the breakdown. 

Nevertheless, there are not enough disadvantages to stop you from composting those baking papers. However, it is still essential to know that there are types of parchment papers, in addition to white parchment paper, which are unsuitable for composting.

Kinds of Parchment Papers You Should Not Compost

It is essential to take a note of what we can and what we can’t compost to avoid wasting time, energy, and resources. Here’s a list of types of bakery paper you shouldn’t compost:

New Parchment Papers on Wooden Table
  • Glossy parchment paper
  • Printed parchment paper
  • Parchment paper with dairy, fish, or meat residues
  • Fluorescent parchment paper
  • Parchment paper with aluminum or metallic foil
  • Waxy sheets

In addition to avoiding all these parchment papers for your compost, there are a few precautions, which if you take can make your compost better.

Precaution To Take While Composting Parchment Paper

Taking precautions while composting parchment paper can reduce the risk of a failed compost. Here are some points to consider:

  • Ensure there are no food residues or grease on the bakery paper.
  • Avoid adding parchment paper directly to the compost without cutting or shredding it into pieces.
  • Avoid using bleached parchment paper.
  • Consider using a parchment paper having food or medical-grade silicone coating as this will avoid the leaching of toxic chemicals during decomposition.

Keep these points in mind, and you’re good to go!

Parchment paper can sometimes be confused with wax paper. However, both are totally different, and using them in place of each other might cause a problem for you. Therefore, let’s peer at the differences between both the paper products so as to avoid the trouble.

Difference Between Parchment Paper and Wax Paper

While parchment paper has a silicone coating and is particularly favored for its resistance to high temperatures, the wax paper has a paraffin wax coating, which causes it to melt quickly and, therefore, MUST NOT be used in ovens or microwaves. Using wax paper near the heat can cause a fire.

Parchment PaperWax Paper
Silicone coatingParaffin wax coating
Resistant to heatEasily melts
More expensiveLess expensive

Nevertheless, parchment paper can be used in place of wax paper. However, you can use wax paper for tasks such as covering, wrapping, or anything that doesn’t involve heat. But DON’T use wax paper instead of parchment paper for cooking purposes unless you want your cooking to be on fire!

Can we recycle parchment paper?

No, you cannot recycle parchment paper since it has a layer of silicone which makes it difficult to be added to the blue bin or blue box. However, you can consider recycling the cardboard box which contained the parchment paper.

How long does it take to compost parchment paper?

It takes around 6-8 weeks to compost parchment paper under the right conditions.

Can we compost parchment paper with aluminum foil with it?

No, you should not compost parchment paper with aluminum foil as aluminum is not a biodegradable material.

Are all types of parchment paper compostable?

No, it is best to avoid composting bleached parchment paper since it contains chemicals harmful to the compost.

What to do with baking sheets if we don’t have a compost bin or pile?

You can send the baking sheets or parchment paper to a commercial composting facility, where it can be composted with appropriate facilities and can be saved from entering landfills.

Are all paper products compostable?

Mostly all paper products are compostable, like cardboard, paper towel, paper bag, compostable bag, newspapers, parchment paper, tissue paper, and other related products. However, ensure that the paper product you are composting is not treated with any chemicals.

Does parchment paper have a plastic coating?

No, parchment paper doesn’t have a plastic coating. Instead, it has a silicone coating.

Given these points, it is evident that you can definitely use parchment paper for plants by composting it, with the proviso that the paper is untreated and free from chemicals. And there’s another thing everyone has in their home – newspapers. So, if you wish to compost newspapers, let us guide you through!