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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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  • Clarissa V. 14 days ago
    The message no one shout. That’s not even real cheese! Who is buying fake cheese that cares about the environment? Is there really someone out there collecting slice wrappings and driving to a recycle center to drop off?
    • Bobbi C. 6 days ago
      People can buy fake cheese and still care about the environment. That is absurd to think otherwise.
  • ALEX R. 1 month ago
    I have been working on this for the last 4 years. I purchased some of the equipment, modified some of the equipment and I even built my own drain table. It has been a long process that started in my well house when I lived in Oregon. I have since moved to Nevada and remodeled part of my garage into a very small make room.

    I have all the business licensed required and just need to get my plant permit and a distribution license. I am just about there, I will soon be making cheese at home and selling it locally.
  • Walter L. 3 months ago
    Buy fresh sliced cheese it comes in paper around it
  • Tamra R. 3 months ago
    Too many plastics, find better ways.
  • shirle p. 4 months ago
    I made some grilled cheese using real cheese and it was delicious. I always have real cheese on hand so I will not buy any more processed cheese slices.
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