Is freezer paper biodegradable? (3 advantages and 3 disadvantages of freezer paper)

This article shall answer the question of the biodegradability of freezer paper.

It shall also cover other areas such as:

  • The applications of freezer paper.
  • The components of freezer paper.
  • The comparison between aluminum foil and freezer paper.

Is freezer paper biodegradable?

No, freezer paper is not biodegradable because it is covered with a plastic material that is obtained from petroleum products.

Biodegradation does not happen to plastics because they are not susceptible to microbial degradation.

Biodegradation is the process by which naturally occurring organic materials are broken down by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi into small particles which are not harmful to the environment.

Biodegradation is carried out by different agents such as UV radiation, light, wind, and water but the most effective agents of biodegradation are bacteria and fungi.

Biodegradation occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and assimilation.

The biodeterioration process loosens up the structure of the organic substance. For instance, the cell wall of plants is weakened by light, wind, water, and UV radiation.

Bio-fragmentation involves the breakdown of organic matter into smaller, nontoxic particles by bacteria and fungi, releasing water and carbon dioxide in the process.

Assimilation is the last stage of biodegradation and it involves the microorganisms taking up the products of bio-fragmentation into their biological machinery to be used to make energy.

Biodegradation can either involve the microorganisms using oxygen, aerobic biodegradation or it can involve the microorganisms which do not use oxygen, anaerobic biodegradation.

Aerobic biodegradation breaks down organic matter into small biomass, producing carbon dioxide and water.

Anaerobic biodegradation breaks down organic matter into small biomass and in the process carbon dioxide and methane gases are produced.

Aerobic biodegradation occurs at a faster rate than anaerobic biodegradation whereas anaerobic respiration is more efficient and produces more gases and other products.

What is a freezer paper?

Freezer paper is a heavy-duty paper that is coated with wax or plastic on one side. The plastic coating helps the freezer to maintain moisture.

It is thick and stiff and white. It is slightly translucent. The freezer paper has high durability. 

Freezer paper differs from wax and baking paper in that it is coated on just one side, while the other is coated on both sides.

The freezer paper is used to wrap up food before freezing to prevent the food from losing moisture or sticking to other items.

The waxed or side covered with plastic prevents fluids from meat and seafood from penetrating the outside of the freezer paper.

The waxed side of the freezer paper or the side covered with plastic is rolled against the foodstuff with the paper side on the outside. This helps in labeling the dates and names of the covered foodstuff.

The freezer paper is preferred over the plastic wraps because plastic wraps leave air around foodstuff, making it prone to freezer burn.

Freezer paper is not best for freezing small items like cereals because they are too small to be wrapped. 

The plastic coating makes freezer paper, not an ideal item for wrapping foodstuffs when using microwaves and ovens because it will melt into the food.

The main disadvantage of freezer paper is defrosting the frozen foodstuff. Defrosting is possible if the wrapped item is left in a refrigerator for some time, the challenge is when a person is in a hurry because defrosting in a freezer paper takes time.

What are the components of freezer paper?

The freezer paper is made using bleached paper coated with wax or plastic.

The plastic used is mainly polyethylene.

Polyethylene.

This is a thermoplastic polymer of ethylene.

Properties of polyethylene.

The following are the properties of low-density polyethylene.

  • It is inert at room temperature.
  • It is affected by strong solvents.
  • It can withstand slightly high temperatures.
  • It is tough.
  • It is flexible.
  • It is less crystalline.
  • It has a low tensile strength.
  • It produces greenhouse gases methane and ethylene.
  • It easily breaks down as compared to other plastics.

Uses of polyethylene.

The following are the uses of low-density polyethylene.

  • In making packaging foams.
  • In making plastic bowls.
  • In making plastic bottles.
  • In making plastic tubes.
  • Making plastic components of the computer.
  • Making plastic laboratory equipment.
  • Making plastic paper bags.
  • Making plastic trays.
  • Making surfaces resistant to corrosion.
  • Making juice and milk cartons.
  • Making LDPE pipes.
  • Making battery cases.

What are the other substances used for wrapping?

A freezer paper is one of the substances used to wrap items in a freezer.

The others include.

  • Aluminum foil.
  • Parchment paper 
  • Wax paper.

Aluminum foil.

Aluminum foils are obtained from aluminum metal.

Aluminum metal is heated and then rolled into thin sheets to form aluminum foils.

Heavy-duty aluminum foils can be used as a freezer wrap. It is mostly used together with an overwrap to protect it from tearing and punctures. 

Properties of aluminum foil.

The following are the properties of aluminum foil.

  • It is resistant to light and UV penetration.
  • It reflects light and heat.
  • It’s a good conductor of electricity.
  • It is non-corrosive.
  • It’s lightweight.
  • It’s very durable.
  • It’s non-magnetic

Parchment paper.

Parchment paper is also called vegetable paper. It is cellulose-based that has been processed to acquire properties such as non-stickiness, grease resistance, and humidity resistance.

It is mostly used in baking as a grease-resistant surface. It is also used as a freezer wrap for storing items in a freezer.

Parchment is done by running sheets of paper pulp through sulfuric acid or zinc chloride. The parched paper has high stability, high density, heat resistance, grease resistance, and water resistance.

Parchment paper is used in the following ways:

  • It is used to cook en papillote; steamed food cooked within closed pouches of parchment paper.
  • Can be used in place of wax paper as a non-stick surface.
  • In the textile tube industry, the outer layer of parchment paper confers the required resistance to abrasions, heat, and oil.

Waxed paper.

Waxed paper is also called the wax paper or paraffin paper. This is a processed paper that has been made moisture-proof through waxing.

According to an article, Waxed paper can not be used in an oven because it will release smoke and explode. Parchment paper is preferred.

It can be used in a microwave to prevent splatters by covering the food. The paper is not heated by the microwave and so it is safe to use. It is preferred over the plastic wrap which melts at higher temperatures, or aluminum foil which is not safe for use in most microwave ovens.

Other uses of waxed papers include:

  • Used to wrap razor blades to make them safe to handle.
  • It was used as a wrapping for sports card packages.
  • It was used to keep bubble gum safe.
  • It was used to protect early packages of Kellog’s cereal.
  • It is used to attach pattern pieces to the fabric while cutting it for sewing.
  • It can be used as an electrical insulator due to its high dielectric strength.
  • It is used as a light diffuser in photography. 

Is freezer paper eco-friendly?

Freezer paper contains almost 90% of cellulose fiber which is natural. The other percentage is polyethylene plastic.

Cellulose fiber is biodegradable because it is organic while plastics are not. Looking at the percentage of materials, we can say that freezer paper is largely biodegradable.

The plastic part will not break down and will be left to the environment, and therefore, freezer paper is not entirely eco-friendly.

Freezer paper is non-recyclable and therefore improper disposal will lead to the accumulation of non-biodegradable plastic parts.

Although freezer paper has been declared by the Food and Drug Administration as safe to use, exposing it to high temperatures may break down some chemicals in polyethylene, these will be released into the environment as emissions, polluting the environment.

Conclusion.

This article has answered the question of the biodegradability of freezer paper.

It has also covered other areas such as:

  • Properties and uses of freezer paper.
  • Components of freezer paper.
  • Other substances are used to wrap food items.
  • Eco-friendliness of freezer paper.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is freezer paper biodegradable?

Is freezer paper better than plastic?

Freezer paper is better than plastic because it contains a paper part which makes the labeling of items easy.

The freezer paper is largely made up of cellulose-based heavy-duty paper and only part contains plastic, it does not pollute the environment as much as the plastics.

Are freezer wraps compostable?

Freezer wraps made from natural, organic materials such as waxed paper are compostable since wax is an organic product.

Freezer wraps that contain synthetic plastics such as freezer paper are not compostable because plastics are non-biodegradable.

Is freezer paper safe to use?

Yes, freezer paper is food grade and has been rendered safe to use by the Food and Drug Administration.

Citations.

Christine Gallary. (Jun 17, 2020). What Is Freezer Paper — And How Is It Different from Wax Paper and Parchment?

Retrieved from:

https://www.thekitchn.com/what-is-freezer-paper-211401

Danilo Alfaro. (4th August 2020). What Is Freezer Paper?.

Retrieved from:

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-freezer-paper-and-what-is-it-good-for-4771755#:~:text=Freezer%20paper%20is%20a%20heavy,the%20parcel%20with%20a%20marker

Mayer, Ferdinand F (May 1860). “Technical Intelligence—Vegetable Parchment—Papyrene”. The American Journal of Science and Arts. XXIX (LXXXVI): 278.

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