Is Aluminum Foil Biodegradable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: August 14, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Aluminum foil is an item that you will likely find in almost every home you visit. 

It makes a great option for covering food and snacks that we aren’t quite finished with or protecting our food from getting stuck to our baking sheets. 

There are a ton of questions surrounding aluminum foil. 

One of the most asked questions is whether the material is biodegradable. 

This question is out of concern for the environment and the impact that aluminum foil might have on it.

You will notice that aluminum foil is not a product that is biodegradable. 

When it is thrown away into a landfill, it will remain there for an incredibly long time. 

Since it doesn’t biodegrade, aluminum has the potential to end up in places that it can be consumed by animals. 

It is best to make sure you are disposing of aluminum foil in a way that is safe for the environment.

What is Biodegradable?

Biodegradable means that an item is able to break down over time with the help of microorganisms and time in landfills. 

Biodegrading is a biological process that breaks down an item and returns the base elements back to nature.

Is Aluminum Foil Biodegradable?

Aluminum foil is not a product that is considered to be biodegradable. 

It will slowly break down over time due to oxidation, but this will take hundreds of years to complete. 

There are much better ways to dispose of aluminum foil than just throwing it away in your trash can for it to end up in a landfill.

Is Aluminum Foil Environmentally Friendly?

Aluminum foil is a material that is not considered to be environmentally friendly. 

Many people do not realize there is a proper way to dispose of the product, so they just throw it away and it ends up in landfills or other undesirable places. 

There is a potential that aluminum foil will lower the soil nutrient in an area that it gets stuck. 

This can impact the growth of plants and the health of animals that feed near that area. 

Animals can also consume aluminum foil, which can lead to significant health problems and potentially their death.

How Long Does It Take Aluminum Foil to Decompose?

Even though aluminum foil isn’t biodegradable, it will eventually decompose. 

It will take aluminum foil anywhere between 80 to 400 years to be completely decomposed. 

Since most people do not know how to properly dispose of aluminum foil, it ends up in landfills and other places where it can cause damage.

Can You Recycle Aluminum Foil?

You will probably be surprised to learn that aluminum foil is completely recyclable. 

However, it can be tricky to find a recycling center that will accept aluminum foil because it will usually contain remnants of food waste that can contaminate the other recycled objects. 

There might be a facility in your area that will specifically accept aluminum foil, so make sure you check your surrounding area. 

The best way to recycle your aluminum foil is to rinse it completely after use and put them in your recycling container that goes by the end of the road on trash days. 

The aluminum foil will go through the sorting process at the facility and will be properly melted down and reused.

It will be more helpful to combine all aluminum foil sheets into one ball instead of keeping it all separate. 

This will make it easier to prevent the aluminum foil from getting separated from each other or getting stuck to other recycled materials.

What if You Can’t Recycle?

If you can’t figure out a way to recycle your aluminum foil, there are ways you can reuse the product in your home. 

First, you can use it to clean off some leftover grease off a pan. 

Instead of constantly replacing steel wool pads as they go bad, you can just use some bunched-up aluminum foil. 

Aluminum foil is dishwasher safe, so you can use it over and over again.

Aluminum foil will also come in handy for protecting your garden. 

If you notice you are having a hard time with bugs and other pests, you can attempt putting aluminum foil around the bottom of the plants in your garden. 

For an eco-friendlier option, you can hang aluminum foil strips in your garden. 

This will scare animals away from your plants and keep them safe.

It might sound silly, but you can also use aluminum foil to protect the silverware in your kitchen. 

If you lay the silverware on top of a piece of aluminum foil, the deterioration will slow down, and you will be able to use them for longer. 

You can also repair tarnished silverware that you might have. 

All you need is aluminum foil, water, and baking soda.

Why Should We Recycle Aluminum Foil?

Aluminum foil is considered to be one of the highest valued materials that can be recycled. 

It can be repurposed extremely fast with a turnaround time of about 60 days. 

It takes less energy to melt down and repurpose aluminum foil than it does to create brand new aluminum foil.

Recycling aluminum foil takes more than 90% less energy than what is needed to make new aluminum foil. 

While most people aren’t sure how to dispose of aluminum foil, it is estimated that 75% of all the aluminum that has been produced is still in use today.


It can be tricky to determine whether a product is biodegradable or not. 

Just because something breaks down over time, that doesn’t mean it is biodegradable. 

A product that is biodegradable will be consumed by microorganisms over a few years until nothing is left but the base materials to soak back into the ground.

Since these microorganisms don’t need any type of nutrient from aluminum foil, it will not biodegrade. 

It will very slowly disintegrate from the sun and oxygen, but it takes hundreds of years to happen. 

Your best option for disposing of aluminum foil is to find a facility that will allow you to recycle it. 

Always make sure the aluminum foil is free of any food remnants to increase your chances of being able to recycle it.

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