This post is an expansion of my update to Composting Questions and Confusions.
Are parchment paper and butcher paper compostable? Great questions especially since so many more people are home baking and cooking right now.
For parchment, it depends on the brand. You’ll need to read your box to determine if your parchment is compostable. Most parchment and butcher papers are lined with silicone to be non-stick or leak-proof and these should not be composted. If you use a brand such as If You Care Parchment Backing Sheets or Backing Paper, this brand is certified compostable and you may compost this brand. If You Care baking products are available at Central Market, Natural Grocer’s, Wheatsville Co-op, and Amazon. Look for “certified compostable” for compostable products.
Butcher paper nowadays is typically lined in plastic so it doesn’t leak. Plastic-coated butcher paper should be put in the trash. You’ll need to ask your meat counter what their paper is made of. Whole Foods said their butcher paper was lined in plastic. *Note: I’m getting conflicting information from neighbors on Whole Foods’ responses to them so I’ll check on this and update the post. In the meantime, ask the counter at each store.* I’ll ask HEB the next opportunity I have. Of course it would be great if the grocery stores listed this information at their counters and on their websites, but I’m sure that would put some people off or hold them more accountable.
Many Whole Foods and other grocery stores’ meat counters will put your order in your own container using the sheets they use to measure meat. Mueller’s HEB said they would, but it’s at the discretion of the store and you may need to talk to a manger if the counter person if giving you a hard time. Ask your meat counter manager before you go through the trouble of bringing containers, especially during COVID. Grocery stores probably are not allowing BYOB containers right now for safety reasons.
Wax paper is plastic paper and is not compostable, throw it in the trash.
I’ve requested Austin Resource Recovery update their What Do I Do With? web-page (and app) to address parchment paper and butcher paper. As of today both items are still not listed.
For ease of implementation, education, and accountability, please be aware that some cities/contractors may advise you not to compost any parchment or butcher paper since many people will not put forth the effort to determine the true nature of the products they purchase/are given and will err on “it’s okay to go in,” therefore contaminating the compost stream. It’s more cost effective for contractors to say no to all of a category than to weed out the contaminants. Keep an eye on the educational material provided by your city and/or contractor. You may need to compost these at home or in an alternative way if you choose to use these products.