Is Beeswax Biodegradable?

Last Updated: 11.12.19

 

Since beeswax is a natural product, it is one of the biodegradable products that are being used for creating new materials that are less harmful to our environment. One option is beeswax wraps, and you should check it out sooner than later, as it is an excellent alternative to traditional plastic wraps.

Beeswax is a natural product that honey bees make to store their honey in. It is, in fact, biodegradable and also, very much temperature-dependent. Considering these two traits beeswax has, people started looking into ways that it can be used to replace plastic, that became so widely used over the past decades.

Because plastic is such an environmental hazard, alternatives have been on researcher’s minds for a while now. As you may know, the two ways we dispose of plastic waste is either by burning it, which leads to many toxic fumes and residue being released into the air we breathe, or by disposing of it in the wrong way, which makes it end up in the world’s oceans.

Either way, plastic waste affects our planet and the animals living on it, both on land and in the seas, in ways that gradually became uncontrollable. As the world’s population is constantly growing, so is the amount of waste we produce, therefore finding ways of replacing the use of plastic is mandatory, as soon as possible.

The vast majority of plastic waste around the world comes from large cities, especially in the developed countries of the world. Most people living here depend on supermarkets for their daily food supply, and the food they buy comes wrapped in plastic. A key factor to be taken into consideration is how long do we use a particular plastic bag for?

 

The alternative

Some people around the world came up with an alternative solution to wrapping food in plastic. This is how beeswax wraps were created. They are made out of natural materials, such as beeswax, organic cotton fibers, jojoba oil, and tree resin. The outcome is 100% natural, biodegradable wraps that can be reused over an extended time period.

Remember we said beeswax is temperature-dependent? A fun fact about beeswax wrap is that once you place it on the food or container you need to have wrapped, you put your hands around it and the warmth from your hands will make it become moldable and take the desired shape. This way, beeswax wrap will safely cover up food items in your kitchen.

Once you have finished using it, you can gently wash it and let it dry well, and it will soon be ready to be used again. Just make sure you avoid washing it with hot water, as it will cause the beeswax in the wrap to melt, making it unsuitable for any further use. Of course, at some point in time the beeswax wrap will wear out, but that will not happen for months.

Being reusable comes with a major advantage, that of raising awareness toward keeping a package wrap for more than one use. For instance, when you take a sandwich to school or to work with you, instead of throwing the wrap away immediately after you are done, you will fold it and keep it in your bag until you get home to clean and reuse it.

Another good thing about beeswax wrap is that it is compostable. This means that when it wears out you can safely dispose of it. You will know when your beeswax wrap has reached the end of its days, as it will start feeling less waxy and more like fabric on the outside. This is the time for you to decide whether to put it to a different use around your home or simply compost it.

 

 

The pros of using beeswax wrapping

People using it stated that it helped keep food fresh for a longer time than regular plastic wraps. This is mainly due to its natural ingredients that have preservative properties. Also, light exposure is an often overlooked contributor to the spoilage of food. This process is also called photodegradation. Since beeswax wraps are opaque, food spoilage will be reduced. 

Besides photodegradation, oxidation can cause foods to lose vitamins, fats, and proteins, resulting in increased discoloration and bad flavors. Biodegradable wraps will contribute to keeping your food fresh, tasty and nutritious for as long as possible. However, it is never smart to let food, especially fruits and vegetables sit in the fridge for a long time.

Beeswax wraps can be used for a wide variety of foods, such as cheese, bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, and processed food. However, you should not use it for raw meat or any sort of hot foods. High temperatures will cause the wax in the wrapping to melt and the food inside might just become inedible. 

This type of wax wraps are self-adhesive, therefore there is no need for any other materials to be used to get them sealed. Just use the warmth and pressure of your hands to make it stick around the food container or take the shape of the food items you want to have wrapped. Use your hands the same way to fold it for storing after you are done with it.

As stated before, the fact that beeswax is biodegradable, reusable, and compostable makes it an undeniable option among available wrapping products on the market. Using a wider range of reusable materials may result in a drastic drop in the amount of waste humans produce daily. To be fair, let’s take a look at some of the beeswax’s downsides too.

 

The cons of using beeswax wraps

Some users noticed that although beeswax wrapping is quite pliable and self-adhesive, there are certain food containers that it will not properly seal. This can come as a downside, especially in the case of smelly foods in your fridge. You most definitely do not want all of the items in your fridge catching on to that smell.

Not being able to wrap certain foods in it, such as raw meat or hot foods also comes as a downside, mostly because it means you still need to use plastic wrapping as well. However, users are confident that scientists will soon come up with a solution to this problem, as soon as possible, making plastic the least desirable of our choices.

Using reusable, biodegradable wrapping comes with a little more work involved, and also proves to be a bit more time consuming than single-use wrapping. Things like saving your sandwich wrap for later, cleaning it and storing it can come as a nuisance. However, thinking things over on a larger scale, it’s the least we can do for our planet. 

Another aspect to be taken into consideration here is the price tag this type of wrap comes with. Since they are made out of 100% natural ingredients, it is to be expected for them to be a bit pricier than regular single-use wraps. Still, if you properly use and store the reusable wraps, at the end of the day, they might be cheaper than plastic wraps.

 

 

How are biodegradable products helping our planet?

Besides biodegradable beeswax wraps, other biodegradable products are being manufactured daily. The mass production of these alternative materials will, more often than not, require far less production energy, thus resulting in fuel efficiency. Biodegradable products are made from renewable resources like corn, sugarcane, and potato starch instead of oil.

Also, the manufacturing process of this type of products involves a lot less pollution than traditional mass production of plastic. Another key element is that these biodegradable products can break back down into nontoxic components. That’s why they do not release dangerous chemical substances that could poison water or toxic fumes that would pollute the air. 

Biodegradable plastic products produce 68 percent fewer greenhouse gasses than petroleum-based plastic products, as shown by recent discoveries. 

Yet another huge advantage of using biodegradable products is the possibility of composting them. Composting traditional biodegradable paper products along with plastics, food, and other agricultural waste can turn your trash into rich, nutrient-filled humic material. Using this humic material in agriculture can help plants grow healthier with little need for chemical fertilization.

For now, biodegradable plastic can only be composed in commercial facilities dedicated to composting this type of material. They use high composting temperatures that are not suited to composting paper and textile items. However, the future looks bright as we stand a good chance of composting at a larger scale in the near future.

 

 

 

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