Kitchen foil waste disposal and recycling

Kitchen foil is a common addition to the home and is very useful when it comes to cooking. Aluminium kitchen foil is recyclable if properly prepared beforehand, otherwise, it will have to go to landfill.

Kitchen foil waste disposal and recycling

Who invented kitchen foil?

The first type of foil was tin foil and its earliest uses were the lining of cigarettes and for wrapping chocolate bars, such as Toblerone, in the early 1900s. The term tin foil is carried over from industrial uses where tin was actually used, however, it was never really used domestically. In 1910 tin foil became aluminium foil, which became readily available to the general public in 1940.

What is kitchen foil made of and how it is made?

Modern domestic kitchen foil is made of aluminium. The aluminium ore is refined to remove any trace elements such as silica, iron and water. In recent times aluminium alloys may be used, typically made up of 92-99% aluminium with other elements that can change the properties of the finished foil.

The pure aluminium or aluminium alloy is melted and poured into a cast and rolled to form a large sheet of foil. This process is then repeated till the desired thickness is reached. This gives a very large roll of aluminium foil which is un-rolled, cut and then re-rolled onto smaller spools, which is placed into boxes and prepared to be shipped.

How to dispose of kitchen foil

Aluminium foil can be recycled, provided it is cleaned beforehand. If the foil is caked in food then it may not be suitable for recycling and should be thrown in your rubbish bin. If possible, the foil should be cleaned and then scrunched into a ball. If using multiple pieces of foil, scrunch them all together – the bigger the ball, the easier it is to recycle.

What happens to kitchen foil after it has been recycled?

When the clean foil reaches the recycling plant, it is melted down into raw aluminium to be used again. This could be used to make foil, trays, or cans.

Problems with kitchen foil waste

A big issue with kitchen foil is that to recycle it, it must be clean. A lot of people are unaware of this or simply don’t have time to clean the foil before recycling. However, this renders it non-recyclable and causes it to end up in general waste.

What are alternatives to kitchen foil?

There are several environmentally friendly alternatives to kitchen foil on the market, such as beeswax food wraps, silicone food covers and baking mats, or just storing items in glass containers – all of which can be continuously reused.

Ideas for upcycling and reusing kitchen foil

Firstly, kitchen foil can be reused in your kitchen instead of just getting new kitchen foil, provided it isn’t too soiled. You can crumple up used kitchen foil and use it as a pot scrubber, or scrunch it into balls and fill a plant pot to act as drainage. As a last resort, you can even just use it as an art supply.

It’s good to re-use kitchen foil where possible as the creation of it, from extracting raw materials to transporting to your local supermarket, is extremely energy-intensive and not good for the environment.

What are the costs associated with disposing of kitchen foil?

To recycle kitchen foil you will need to have a recycling bin to put it in, also if it needs to be cleaned there will be minor water costs.

Where can you take tin foil to dispose of it for free

If it’s clean it can be put in your recycling bin, many supermarkets will also collect recycling or public recycling can also be found in city centres. If the foil is dirty it can go into your general waste or to landfill.

Facts about kitchen foil

• Around 860,000 tonnes of kitchen foil is produced in Europe annually.

• Tin foil was replaced by aluminium as it is less expensive to produce and is more durable.

• Many people aren’t sure whether to use the shiny or dull side when cooking, but actually, there is no better side. The difference comes from the manufacturing process, but the sides are not functionally different.

• Kitchen foil is extremely useful in the home, but its creation is very energy-intensive for a single-use product. Where possible, you should aim to keep the foil as clean as possible so that it can be recycled. Alternatively, you can reuse it to reduce your overall foil usage, or use the foil to help with other issues around your home.

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