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Because You Asked

Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Sliced-Cheese Wrappers?

By Recyclebank |
A pre-cut slice of cheese is a common and convenient addition to sandwiches and burgers, but what about the plastic it comes in?

Dear Recyclebank: I was wondering about the plastic wrappers on sliced cheese products. It is stiffer than grocery bags and more like cellophane. Can it be recycled? –Arlene P.

Dear Arlene: With picnic season approaching, individually wrapped, sliced cheese is often seen as more convenient than blocks of cheese that you have to cut. Who doesn’t want ready-to-go cheese slices included in their hamper full of sandwich or barbecue fixings at a Memorial Day gathering? However, convenience isn’t the only value, and it often comes with a heavier carbon footprint.

Cheese wrappers tend not to be marked with a Resin Identification Code (RIC), which can make it hard to tell which type of plastic they’re made of. It’s difficult to know for sure, but it’s likely the plastic wrapped around your individually sliced cheese is a form of low-density polyethylene (#4) plastic — the same as plastic grocery bags, but in a thicker form. While these plastics are widely recycled, the potential issue with cheese wrappers is one we’ve discussed before: Plastic films have the potential to wreak havoc on recycling machinery. Cheese wrappers are smaller and stiffer than something like cling wrap, and certain curbside programs may accept them; you’ll need to check with your city or town to be certain. As with plastic bags, drop-off recycling programs are likely to be a safer choice for sliced-cheese wrappers.

A better option would be to avoid them. The more packaging an item requires, the bigger a carbon footprint it represents and the harder it is on the environment before and after use. Instead of buying sliced-cheese wrapped in plastic, save money and resources by buying your cheese by the block (less plastic) and slicing as you need it. If going on a picnic, you can portion slices out into reusable, portable food containers like Tupperware, or use reusable beeswax food wraps, from Abeego or Bee’s Wrap. Using these methods may have the added benefit of better-tasting cheese; cheesemongers tend to frown upon plastic wraps, which don’t allow cheese to breathe and which stifle its flavor. You’ll be reducing your waste output and improving your dining experience by reducing your reliance on plastic wrappers.

SOURCES: Los Angeles Times

What food-transporting and cheese-storing methods do you use? Let us know in the comments below.
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  • Adrienne M. 1 day ago
    We purchased a commercial grade meat slicer. We buy the big five pounds blocks of cheese at Costco and slice our own at home. The only time I tend to buy pre-sliced is when we're traveling and are limited on fridge space.
  • Sara T. 10 days ago
    I always thought the individually wrapped cheese: 1) tasted funny. 2)was a pain to unwrap, and creates a lot of excess trash. I like to purchase the pre-sliced block of cheese or 2+ lbs of shredded cheese.
  • Lawrence B. 1 month ago
    I don't buy or use plastic processed cheese, as this is not real cheese at all, it is a processed cheese! Like Kim L below, I also buy Deli sliced cheeses and meats and keep them in a plastic container which I just keep reusing.
  • Kim L. 1 month ago
    I either buy a block of cheese and slice it myself, or purchase it directly from the deli and have it sliced by them. I ask the deli to put it in one of their plastic containers with a lid that I reuse at home for storage. Most of my garage nuts and bolts are stored in the clear round deli containers; easy to see what is inside, and cheaper than buying containers.
  • James B. 1 month ago
    Do they still make presliced blocks of cheese?
    • Margaret H. 2 days ago
      It is at least as popular as when you were a kid. Believe it or not, he world doesn't revolve around you. And there are many things that you do or buy that most others would say "Wow...I haven't done that since I was a kid!"
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