It’s Time to Ditch the Parchment Paper! Here’s Its Environmental Impact—and What to Use Instead

"If you love baking, you've probably gone through hundreds of rolls of parchment paper. But can you recycle it? And what should you use instead? Consider this your guide."

Parchment paper—aka baking paper—has been an essential part of any baker’s kitchen. The paper is greaseproof and heat-resistant, and is used to create a non-stick surface for your baked goodies—particularly cookies. And while it’s easy to use, its disposal isn’t as simple.

While nonstick pans are always a waste-free option, it’s true that many people still opt for parchment paper. In 2020, about 1.75 million Americans used 10 or more rolls or boxes of parchment wrap. With this many people still using parchment paper in the kitchen, it’s no secret this product may be creating a significant amount of waste.

So, you may be wondering: Is parchment paper recyclable? Or what to use instead of parchment paper. This guide covers everything you should know.

What Is Parchment Paper?

what to use instead of parchment paper

Like aluminum foil and plastic cling wrap, parchment paper is often sold in rolls, contained in a long cardboard box. The paper can either be white or brown, depending on the brand and the type you buy.

To create the beloved non-stick feature parchment paper has, the paper is coated in silicone. If the paper is white, it’s gone through an extra step: bleaching. Brown paper hasn’t been bleached, and therefore contains fewer chemicals. But white parchment paper undergoes a bleaching process that uses chlorine and toxins. This process pollutes the atmosphere and waterways.

However, some brands—including Reynolds—offer nonbleached, compostable parchment paper. This paper is chlorine-free, made from 75% unbleached fibers, and the packaging is 100% recyclable cardboard.

The catch? The paper is compostable at commercial facilities, but Reynolds doesn’t offer information about whether it’s compostable in your at-home composting bin. In other words, it can be really hard to figure out the most eco-friendly way to dispose of parchment paper.

Is Parchment Paper Recyclable?


Most recycling facilities say you can’t recycle parchment paper—especially if the paper is soiled with grease and food residue. However, the cardboard box can be recycled as long as you take off the metal teeth that line the edge of the box.

While recycling rules differ by city and state, many facilities have the same advice: Throw parchment paper in the trash, not the recycling bin. To learn how to correctly dispose of parchment paper in accordance with your town’s regulations, you’ll want to check in with local facilities. Some may tell you to just throw it in the trash, but others may have alternative options.

For example, Napa Recycling & Waste Services accepts parchment paper in a curbside composting bin that can be picked up. For wax paper, it’s recommended to use a petroleum-free wax paper alternative. You can look for wax paper that uses soy wax—a renewable source—instead of paraffin wax. However, wax paper isn’t heat resistant like parchment paper, so this isn’t a swap that can replace parchment paper.

Even still, if your local recycling facility prefers you to throw parchment paper or wax paper in the trash, that product is getting sent to the landfill. And research shows that nearly five pounds of trash per person are discarded every day in the U.S.—roughly 1,800 pounds per American each year. Plus, about 62% of waste discarded by American homes and businesses ended up in landfills or in incinerators.

However, there’s an alternative solution that helps curb kitchen waste: a reusable baking mat.

What to Use Instead of Parchment Paper

what to use instead of parchment paper

Wondering what to use instead of parchment paper? Luckily, reusable baking mats exist! You can easily make the switch, reducing the amount of waste that comes with baking yummy treats.

This is your sign to swap your single-use parchment paper for a reusable option. And you’re in luck—Silpat’s Reusable Silicone Baking Mat is available in the Brightly Shop.

This reusable mat is made from a dedicated silicone with reinforced fiberglass mesh—and nothing sticks to it. That means you’ll spend a lot less time cleaning up after baking a batch of cookies. Plus, using this non-stick sheet eliminates the need for butter, baking sprays, and oils.

You can use this silicone mat in the oven, the microwave, and even the freezer. And it’s dishwasher-safe! What’s not to love?

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If you love baking, you've probably gone through hundreds of rolls of parchment paper. But can you recycle it? And what should you use instead? Consider this your guide.

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