Is butter paper biodegradable? (7 steps of production)

This article will shed light on the biodegradability of butter paper. Other covered topics would include:

  • What is butter paper?
  • What is butter paper made of?
  • What is the environmental impact of paper?
  • Is butter paper biodegradable?
  • FAQs

Is butter paper biodegradable?

Butter paper is mainly made from plant-based sources and is therefore regarded as biodegradable. 

Butter paper is a cellulose-based paper which usually is non-sticky in nature. It may also be named baking paper or grease-proof paper. Butter paper may also go by the name of the sandwich paper or vegetable paper. 

The main purpose of butter paper is considered to be the packaging of food. However, there are also some out-of-the-box applications of butter paper such as being used in art to cover and wrap life drawings.

When it comes to the making of butter paper, there are two major steps that are followed. One is the extraction of raw materials and the other is the processing of raw materials to acquire the final products. 

What is butter paper?

Butter paper can be explained as a cellulose-based paper which usually is non-sticky in nature. It may also be named baking paper or grease-proof paper. Butter paper may also go by the name of the sandwich paper or vegetable paper. 

Butter paper may have the following properties: 

  • Non-sticky
  • Natural 
  • Heat resistant
  • Low water absorption
  • Smooth surface

The material that is used in the making of butter paper is sourced from nature. Therefore, it is claimed that there are minimal impacts of butter paper on the environment. This article will probe into this matter and will unravel the ground reality of this statement. 

When it comes to consumer products, there are usually two types of consumer products. This includes consumer products made from natural materials and consumer products made from synthetic products. 

The latter may include the use of fossil fuel derivatives such as petroleum and coke. Owing to this, it is expected that there will be an increased impact of such products on the environment and also on life. 

With rising consumerism and commercialisation, more products are now produced than ever. Therefore, this filter of the environmental impact is very important to apply. 

This will not only save us in the present but will also prove to be the guardian angel for our future generations. And, this is exactly what the idea of sustainability is. 

Sustainability is defined as the consumption of the present by being thoughtful about the future so that future generations may not be deprived of it in any way. 

The common applications of butter paper, as can be guessed from the name, including being used for culinary purposes mainly. Butter paper may be used to store and wrap butter. It may also be used in the lining of baking tins. 

However, the main purpose of butter paper is considered to be the packaging of food. However, there are also some out-of-the-box applications of butter paper such as being used in art to cover and wrap life drawings. 

The properties of butter paper, such as being grease-proof and heat-resistant, make butter a good fit for its applications. However, the idea is not just about the applicability, the main approach is applicability without the expense of environmental cost. 

Most consumer products may be cheap and of good value, but there is a hidden price to be paid by the consumption of such items. And that price is that of our environment and sustainability. 

This is the price that will have to be paid by our future generations and therefore, it is really essential to be wary about it. A common example of such an item can be plastic which is cheap, of good value, but also non-biodegradable. 

What is butter paper made of? (7 steps of production) 

The question is very important because analysing what any material or product is made of will let us make an intellectual guess of its environmental impact. It will also help us in building a stance on the biodegradability status of consumer products. 

When it comes to biodegradability, there is a general understanding that materials made from natural substances are more prone to be biodegradable as compared to products that are made from non-natural substances. 

By non-natural substances, it is meant the materials that are made at the expense of chemicals and lab-based, fossil fuel products. 

When it comes to paper, be it parchment paper, brown paper or butter paper, these are mostly made from trees. These papers are rich in cellulose which is present in the trees. 

This implies that butter paper does not make use of fossil-based materials, rather trees are cut to make butter paper. 

When it comes to the making of butter paper, there are two major steps that are followed. One is the extraction of raw materials and the other is the processing of raw materials to acquire the final products. 

Although butter paper is made from trees because trees are the main source of cellulose fibres, it is claimed that paper may also be extracted and made from other sources such as cotton, straw, hemp, jute et cetera. 

The production of butter paper from wood pulp (source of cellulose) may be summarised into the following steps: 

  • Extraction of cellulose fibres from sources
  • Conversion to pulp
  • Mixing with water
  • Machine processing
  • Drying
  • Cutting into sheets and rolls
  • Post-production steps (packaging, labelling & shipping)

What is the environmental impact of butter paper?

Butter paper is made from wood pulp. This automatically implies that butcher paper is sourced from natural sources (plants and trees). 

The main question is, would butter paper have any significant impact on the environment? The answer may be explained from a variety of frames. 

There will definitely be certain effects of butcher paper on the environment. This is mainly because making butter paper means that trees are cut. When trees are cut, there will be environmental consequences. 

Trees are essential entities that save us from environmental anomalies and play their part in the sustainability and maintaining the greenness of the environment.

If there will be excessive tree cutting, there will be negative impacts on the environment including soil erosion, destruction of habitats, and disruption of ecosystems. Trees are the primary producers. They are the starting points of food webs and food chains. 

If trees are cut in grave amounts, there will be effects reciprocated at various levels of food chains. 

With decreased amounts of trees, there will be an increased release of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide. This is because plants and trees take up carbon and convert it into oxygen. This saves our atmosphere from a couple of environmental anomalies. 

When there are fewer trees, there will be a more polluted atmosphere due to carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is regarded as a greenhouse gas. This is because it leads to a phenomenon that is termed global warming. 

Global warming, as the name suggests, leads to increased global temperatures. This, in turn, gives rise to a plethora of other anomalies as well. These can be summarised into: 

  • Floods 
  • Substantial losses
  • Species endangerment 
  • Disruption of ecosystems 
  • Destruction of habitats
  • Increased melting of glaciers
  • Soil erosion
  • Deforestation
  • Acid rain
  • Ozone depletion
  • Droughts
  • Unprecedented weather patterns 
  • Financial losses

Is butter paper biodegradable?

Biodegradability is defined as the process of breakdown of waste into simpler products by the action of microbes and enzymes. The term biodegradability is coined from two terms. These are bio and degradation. 

Bio means life and degradation means the breakdown into simpler materials. This breakdown is very essential because it is a parameter to ensure that there is no waste generation and no waste accumulation. 

Biodegradable waste is the type of waste which can be degraded by the action of microbes and enzymes over a short period of time. Regarding this type, there is a general rule of thumb that biodegradable waste is mostly sourced from natural sources. 

Examples of biodegradable waste include plant waste, animal waste, sewage, manure, waste from slaughterhouses et cetera.

Since butter paper is mainly made from plant-based sources, it is stated that butter paper is indeed biodegradable material. It will degrade in two to six weeks based on external conditions such as aeration, temperature et cetera. 

Next, there is non-biodegradable waste. This type of waste is mostly sourced from non-natural sources such as the products of fossil fuels. This type of waste won’t degrade readily by the action of microbes. 

It is claimed that this type of waste may require even a thousand years to degrade. Therefore, it will lead to waste accumulation and negative impacts. Because of this, non-biodegradable waste is of greater concern to environmentalists as compared to biodegradable waste. 

Examples of non-biodegradable waste include synthetic plastics, synthetic fibres, epoxies, hazardous waste, nuclear waste, electronic waste et cetera. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that butter paper is mainly made from plant-based sources and is therefore regarded as biodegradable. 

Butter paper is a cellulose-based paper which usually is non-sticky in nature. It may also be named baking paper or grease-proof paper. Butter paper may also go by the name of the sandwich paper or vegetable paper. 

The main purpose of butter paper is considered to be the packaging of food. However, there are also some out-of-the-box applications of butter paper such as being used in art to cover and wrap life drawings.

When it comes to the making of butter paper, there are two major steps that are followed. One is the extraction of raw materials and the other is the processing of raw materials to acquire the final products. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Is butter paper biodegradable?

What is the degradation time of butter paper?

Butter may degrade in two to six weeks based on external conditions such as aeration, temperature et cetera.

Can butter paper be recycled?

Yes, it is possible to recycle butter paper. It is claimed that most of the paper may be recycled up to six times before any compromise of quality is made. 

References

  • Bloemhof-Ruwaard, J. M., Van Wassenhove, L. N., Gabel, H. L., & Weaver, P. M. (1996). An environmental life cycle optimization model for the European pulp and paper industry. Omega, 24(6), 615-629.
  • Beckline, M., Yujun, S., Eric, Z., & Kato, M. S. (2016). Paper consumption and environmental impact in an emerging economy. J. Energy, Environ. Chem. Eng, 1(1), 13-18.
  • Ahmad, M. J., Malik, M. N., Maqbool, M., & Jaffar, M. (1990). Effect of various harvesting times and different wrapping materials [butter paper, Newspaper and Polyethylene] on physical characteristics and storage behaviour of Futrell’s early mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco). Journal of Agricultural Research.
  • Laurijssen, J., Marsidi, M., Westenbroek, A., Worrell, E., & Faaij, A. (2010). Paper and biomass for energy?: The impact of paper recycling on energy and CO2 emissions. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 54(12), 1208-1218.
  • Čabalová, I., Kačík, F., Geffert, A., & Kačíková, D. (2011). The effects of paper recycling and its environmental impact (Vol. 17, pp. 329-350). InTech, Rijeka.

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