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Aluminium foil is apparently less environmentally friendly than plastic wrap.

I've been doing some research, and my instincts told me that aluminium foil would be more environmentally friendly than plastic wrap. A lot of info out there supports this, and it seems that most people feel this way - but then I came across this article which says the exact opposite.


Our impact on the environment is so important to many of us these days, I thought I'd just put it out there.

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  1. Interesting. I have a bit of a habit of wrapping things first with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil. Sandwiches and leftover pizza, both of which are usually in my fridge, are always wrapped this way.

    I couldn't care less about the environment. I want my leftover pizza to be as good as it can be.

    1. You must be trying to be sarcastic. If so, I got it. Otherwise, in order to further save the Earth, I recommend you not use either product. You will sleep better at night knowing you have made a difference.

      Sorry about my nastiness.

      1. Interesting link.

        I do try to make responsible choices and this article illustrates how many factors can go into evaluating a product from an environmental point.

        Thanks for posting!

        1 Reply
        1. There is no documentation on how this analysis was done, without which the validity of the conclusions cannot be judged.

          1. OK. But, can you put plastic wrap into the toaster oven?


            4 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Lol - no... I just thought it was an interesting thing to share, because many of us are very conscious of being environmentally friendly, and many of us think that foil is "greener" than plastic - as an intuitive thing it certainly makes sense to me.

              1. re: ursy_ten

                Ah, I think that I missed the thrust of the thread. I thought that it was about using one vs the other. My toaster oven makes a wreck of "plastic wrap," so we use aluminum foil, and often re-use it a few times, but that can depend greatly.

                While I would never wish to pollute, or harm the Earth, I see some, who adopt very silly, and actually counter-productive actions, thinking that they are "green."

                Thank you for helping me get the meaning of this thread. I did not mean to stray off-course, but just misunderstood.

                We use aluminum foil, plastic wrap and also plastic bags, to store our food. To keep the recycle bin partially empty, we will re-use each, though that will depend on the exact circumstances. Foil, that has been soiled with food, will not be re-used, but I have used a single piece maybe 3x, depending on what/how it was used (on). Same for plastic bags. When we use up the cheese in one, and will be opening a new package of the same cheese, we WILL reuse that bag. Some have been in use for maybe 5x, but not always.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Yes, that's what I do. Reuse as much as possible. It makes me feel a bit better about using them at all :)

                  1. re: ursy_ten

                    I have no idea of the impact on the globe, and we can afford to replace all aluminum foil, but I do not like to waste. Now, much will depend on what is being cooked in that foil. Some will NEVER be reused, and some might see 3 - 4 uses. It just depends.


            2. How much aluminum foil or plastic wrap do you use? I happen to use whichever is best for any particular job without regard to the environment mostly because we don't use either all that often.

              1. another illustration of how something can be rotated to appear however the writer wants it to appear -- it all depends on your point of view, and what standards you're using in the evaluation....

                I'm with John -- I use the one that is the best for what I'm doing at the time...plastic wrap isn't really all that great, actually, when you're grilling something.....

                1. Per that article, aluminum foil made from recycled products is MORE environmentally friendly than plastic wrap. I just checked my box of reynolds wrap, and it is not made from recycled products; is it that hard to find?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: janniecooks

                    You should be able to get it at someplace like Whole Foods (or online ... I occasionally put together a bulk order from someplace like Gaiam, but don't know whether they carry this product).

                    I'm not sure foil is recyclable in most city programs? To the best of my knowledge, my city doesn't take it (and we have a very good single-stream program here where we can recycle broken ceramics, etc.).

                    1. re: foiegras

                      Our county's recycling program expanded a couple years ago to include aluminum foil and other aluminum products, milk cartons and similar packaging. Thus I have no qualms about using foil when necessary, and would be more than happy to use a product made from recycled materials. I doubt it is a product I'd buy on-line, but I will certainly seek it out at my favorite retailers.

                      1. re: janniecooks

                        Foil and milk cartons--impressive! Good to know ...

                        1. re: foiegras

                          pretty much the only thing we *can't* recycle here are the thin cartons for yogurt and sour cream...everything else is fair game.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            That's a bit interesting because our recycler started accepting ALL plastic with any of the numbers 1 through 7 on them. They also started to accept plastic bag as long as they're bagged up and not floating around individually. They used to ask that the caps and rings on water bottle be removed, while I did so I don't know anyone else who removed them. Now it's not a problem.

                  2. I have spoken with some folk, who go to the city dump, gather up aluminum foil, wash it, flatten it, and reuse it. Not quite my thing. Never heard of anyone doing that with plastic wrap, but maybe I have just not met that person yet?


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I believe the people you describe are not using the recovered aluminum foil for cooking but rather to line their caps and the interior walls of their homes.

                      1. re: John E.


                        That was the best laugh I've had in several weeks!

                    2. This is something I've been thinking about. I dislike using aluminum foil but can't think of another way to keep my homemade bread fresh. I don't like the idea of using a large Ziploc because shouldn't the bread be able to "breath" a bit? I don't want a clunky bread box, either. Maybe wrap it in wax paper then reuse the wax paper for the next loaf? Paper bag?

                      This is just something I've been rolling around in my head for a few months. If anyone has any ideas I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

                      ETA: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/645850

                      Ahhhh. Good ideas there!

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: UTgal

                        Do you like the way your bread stays fresh when you use aluminum foil? Let's put this into perspective. I assume you reuse the aluminum foil for your homemade bread over a period of time. My question then is, exactly how much aluminum foil would you use in an entire year? If you're careful with it and reuse the foil numerous times i would guess you would still not use an entire roll of aluminum foil to wrap your homemade bread in an entire year. Your aluminum foil could probably be scrunched up so that it is less than a foot square. That is such a tiny amount of solid waste that will go into a landfill that it is nothing to worry about. Hundreds of years from now people will be excavating landfills and with new technology they will be reclaiming materials that we are currently throwing away. At least that's what a friend's dad used to say when he threw away aluminum cans (something which I am not advocating by the way). I write this post not to instruct people to damage the environment, just to put things into perspective and to relieve a little angst.

                        1. re: John E.

                          Not only that, but the discarded aluminum foil can go in the recycling instead of a landfill.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            Our recycler does not want aluminum foil because it burns up like Christmas wrapping paper in your fireplace and floats up and causes problems in the blast furnace.

                              1. re: John E.

                                our recycler goes to great lengths to publicize that they DO take foil. All depends on who's got what equipment.

                            1. re: John E.

                              Thanks John! Yes, I do enjoy how fresh it keeps my bread. However I've not been able to reuse foil after a loaf has been eaten...it's ratty and falling apart. Maybe I need to be more gentle? ;-)

                              Our recycling company won't accept it. :-(

                              Sunshine, thanks for the tin idea!

                            2. re: UTgal

                              UTGal, I've had very good luck keeping breads in aluminum tins -- the kind you get Danish butter cookies in. I have a couple of big ones that will hold a loaf of banana bread, and it stays nice and moist without getting gloppy or drying out (and I can put the box away if I'm not using it)

                              My grandmother kept her chocolate-chip cookies in a tin -- and I do, too -- they stay soft and chewy without being wet.

                            3. I have them both, but rarely use them. I have an old house, and a collection of vintage refrigerator dishes to match, that I generally use to store leftovers. Occasionally I'll cover a bowl that doesn't have a lid with plastic wrap.

                              I buy recycled foil ... don't think plastic wrap is available from recycled sources.

                              No comment on those who 'couldn't care less about the environment.'

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: foiegras

                                A bowl without a lid can be covered with an appropriately sized plate--I almost never use foil in the fridge. Or anyplace else, for that matter. I don't line baking pans--I just soak and wash them. It might take me a minute longer, but I have time.

                                I have one of those huge industrial sized boxes of plastic wrap--the only time I use it is to cover something that I am carrying somewhere. (Like cookies on a plate, for example.)
                                That box will last me all of my life, I am sure--it is already about 10 years old.