Is Butcher Paper Biodegradable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: August 19, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Butcher paper is great for wrapping meat but what should you do when you’re done with it? Should you throw it in your general waste bin or is butcher paper biodegradable?

Most butcher paper is biodegradable because it is made of kraft pulp. Some butcher paper is made from other synthetic materials, you should check what yours is made from before you attempt to compost it.

Butcher paper is a bit of a mixed bag. It can often be tricky to know for sure what you should do with it once you’ve used it. 

To find out more about recycling your bit of butcher paper, check out the rest of this article.

Can Butchers Paper Be Composted?

Butcher paper is ideal for wrapping meat, but it is also commonly used for crafts. 

But since the paper is quite heavyweight and in some cases, waxy, you might be unsure what you’re supposed to do with it when you’ve finished with it.  

Should you put it in your general waste bin, recycle, or compost it?

You can recycle most butcher paper. This is because most butcher paper is only made of kraft pulp which will decompose in your compost bin in next to no time. 

To help speed up the process, rip the butcher paper into small pieces and make sure your compost heap is on the sunny side of your yard.

You should check the makeup of your butcher paper before you compost it. 

This is because some of it is coated with synthetic materials that make the paper firmer and more water resistant. 

If your butcher paper contains any of the following ingredients you will not be able to compost it:

Is Butcher Paper Chemical Free?

Do you want to wrap food in butcher paper? Then you’re no doubt keen to make sure that the material you want to use is chemical-free. 

But what about butcher paper? Is it safe for wrapping food in?

Most butcher paper is FDA approved and chemical-free. This paper is made specifically for wrapping meat in. 

Most butcher paper is made from kraft pulp which is perfectly safe for food. 

The paper comes in various colors, but the white is a bleached version of the paper that butchers often use to make the meat look cleaner. 

Now, we cannot be dogmatic and say that all butcher paper is chemical-free. Why? Because people have also begun to use this paper for arts and crafts. 

Art and craft paper tends to have more chemicals in it such as caustic soda and sulfide to make the paper stronger. It is also often coated with wax. 

So what should you do to make sure your butcher paper is chemical free? The best thing is to check the packaging. 

If the butcher paper is FDA approved, it will not contain any harmful chemicals. If the paper is often used for crafts, then you should check the label to ensure it is safe for contact with food.

Is Butcher Paper Plastic?

Butcher paper is great for wrapping meat. It is highly durable and traps smoke but it also allows your meat to breathe by releasing steam. 

Butcher paper is reinforced to enhance wet strength. But all of these properties, although wonderful, may have you wondering what butcher paper is really made of. Is it plastic? 

Butcher paper is not plastic. It is made from kraft pulp. It is reinforced with kraft pulp but it does not contain plastic. 

It is FDA food certified. Butcher paper is often available in lots of different colors when it is used for arts and crafts. When used around food, it is usually only available in the following colors:

  • Brown
  • White
  • Pink

The original butcher paper is brown. This is the color of the kraft pulp in its natural state. White butcher paper has been bleached. 

Some people prefer this color as they say it makes the meat look cleaner. Pink butcher paper has also been colored. 

Some say that the pink is better as it makes meat bleeds look less like blood. 

What Kind of Paper Is Not Biodegradable?

Are you trying to work out which of your paper products you can put on your compost heap and which of them you should put in the recycling? Then allow us to help. Most paper is biodegradable so you can put it straight on your compost. 

The only paper products that will not biodegrade are those that are coated in plastic such as paper cups and plates. 

Are you ready to start putting some paper onto your compost heap? Well, perhaps you wonder how long it will be sitting there before it disintegrates. 

Take a look at the following information that lists different types of paper and how long they take to decompose. Remember, the results may vary depending on the environment you live in. 

Paper MaterialHow Long It Takes to Biodegrade
Plain paper2 to 6 weeks
Paper towels2 to 4 weeks
Newspaper2 to 6 weeks
Magazines4 to 6 weeks
Paper bags1 month
Paper napkins1 to 6 months
Kraft paperA few weeks

You’ll notice that we did not include paper plates and paper cups in this list. That is because these are not biodegradable paper. 

Paper cups can take up to 20 years to biodegrade and paper plates also take a long time to degrade. 

Although they are often believed to be, paper cups and plates are not an eco-friendly alternative to plastic plates and cups.

How Long Does It Take For Butcher Paper to Decompose?

Butcher paper is a great compostable paper that you can throw onto your compost bin when you have finished using it. 

But, perhaps you wonder how long your paper will spend on your compost heap. It takes butcher paper on average 2 to 6 weeks to decompose. How long it takes for yours to decompose depends on the following:

  • The environment you live in
  • How much paper you are trying to compost
  • The position of your compost heap in your yard
  • How often you aerate your compost

Final Thoughts

Butcher paper is a fantastic tool to use to wrap meat. It is also often used by children for arts and crafts. 

But what should you do with the paper once you’ve finished with it? Should you put it in your recycling bin or is butcher paper biodegradable?

This article has helped us to see that most butcher paper is biodegradable. 

Butcher paper that is FDA approved is made out of natural kraft pulp and will decompose on your compost heap. 

It will usually only take a few weeks for the paper to biodegrade completely. If you want to compost craft paper, you should check the label to ensure it is biodegradable first.

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