Mylar bags are most commonly used to store food products, either pre-packaged or for storing opened food at home.
These bags provide an excellent barrier against oxygen, moisture, light, and even insects – all of which can cause food to spoil – provided that they are sealed properly.
If you’re wanting to use mylar bags in your home, you may be wondering whether or not they are eco-friendly.
Unfortunately, mylar bags are not eco-friendly because of what they are made of and the fact that it is hard to dispose of them in an eco-friendly way.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about why mylar bags are not eco-friendly.
1. Is Mylar a Type of Plastic?
Despite having a metallic, foil-like appearance, mylar is actually a type of plastic.
Mylar is made from a type of plastic known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and it is essentially a plastic film.
2. How Are Mylar Bags Made?
To make Mylar bags, first, the Mylar itself has to be made. This is done by extruding molten PET onto a chill roll drum, which solidifies it into a film.
Once a film has formed, it is stretched in two different directions by first passing it over rollers and then feeding it into a frame where it is pulled at right angles.
Stretching the film in this way improves the properties of the film. After being stretched, the Mylar film is heat-set to ensure that it doesn’t shrink.
The film can also be made in different thicknesses and widths depending on its intended use.
Once the plastic Mylar film is made, it is then covered with a very thin layer of aluminum, which is what gives it a shiny appearance.
In the case of Mylar bags, the aluminum-covered film is then laminated with another layer of plastic so that if certain foods are stored inside the bags, they don’t react with the aluminum coating.
Finally, sheets of Mylar are put together in a certain way to create a Mylar bag.
3. Are Mylar Bags Eco Friendly?
Mylar bags are not eco-friendly since the main material used to make them is plastic.
Plastic is not eco-friendly because it comes from crude oil that has to be heavily refined using various chemicals and manufacturing processes.
Collecting crude oil in the first place has the potential to cause pollution and habitat loss through drilling and oil spills among other things.
Then, refining crude oil also has the potential to cause pollution due to chemicals that could be disposed of incorrectly or could leach into the soil and water.
Not to mention greenhouse gas emissions that are released through manufacturing processes, most of which is due to burning fossil fuels to supply energy to power the machinery.
Finally, although a lot of plastic can be recycled, some of it is limited as to how you can dispose of it in an eco-friendly way. Mylar falls into the latter category.
4. Are Mylar Bags Sustainable?
Mylar bags are not sustainable since Mylar is a type of plastic. Plastic is not sustainable because it comes from a non-renewable resource.
Once all the crude oil has been collected, there will be no more that can be used to create new products such as Mylar and other things that are made from crude oil.
Plus, Mylar has limited ways that you can dispose of it that are eco-friendly.
That means that more crude oil will have to be used every time more Mylar bags need to be made.
5. Are Mylar Bags Biodegradable?
Plastic either doesn’t decompose at all or decomposes very slowly when exposed to certain conditions.
Since Mylar bags are made mostly from plastic and coated with aluminum, they are not considered to be biodegradable.
Plus, the PET plastic itself is resistant to microorganisms, so it can’t be decomposed by bacteria and other organisms that play a role in decomposition.
6. Are Mylar Bags Toxic?
The PET plastic used to make Mylar bags has been determined to be food-safe by several organizations, including the FDA and European Food Safety Authority.
It does not react with food, so Mylar bags can be considered non-toxic as long as they are used as intended.
However, studies have shown that antimony, one of the chemicals used to create PET, can be released quicker when the plastic is heated.
Antimony can be toxic in high doses, but as long as you don’t heat up Mylar bags – which is not what they are intended for – then you shouldn’t have to worry about them being toxic.
7. Are Mylar Bags BPA-Free?
Although BPA is used in the manufacture of some types of plastic, PET plastic is not manufactured with BPA.
Because of this, we can say that Mylar bags are BPA-free as well since PET is the type of plastic used to make Mylar film.
8. Are Mylar Bags Durable?
Mylar bags are durable because they are made to be that way.
They are also very strong and puncture-resistant in addition to being moisture-resistant.
9. Are Mylar Bags Reusable?
One of the only eco-friendly aspects of Mylar bags is that they are reusable.
Since they are durable and resealable, you can wash out Mylar bags and use them over and over again.
Just make sure you let them dry out completely, especially if you’re going to put food back in them.
Moisture can make any food in them spoil faster.
10. Do Mylar Bags Create Microplastics?
Although Mylar bags aren’t biodegradable, they can break down and weaken over time due to waves, wind, or prolonged exposure to sunlight.
As the bags break down into smaller pieces, microplastics are formed.
Microplastics pose a huge problem to wildlife that ingest them as well as potentially exposing organisms and their environments to toxins.
11. Are Mylar Bags Recyclable?
Mylar bags are not recyclable through most recycling programs. This is because they are made up of two materials – PET plastic and aluminum.
Even though both of these materials are recyclable by themselves, it’s hard to recycle Mylar bags because the two materials would have to be separated from each other.
Many recycling facilities either don’t have the equipment needed to do this or can’t justify the cost.
It’s possible that some recycling facilities are able to recycle Mylar bags, but it would likely have to be a specialized facility.
12. How to Dispose of Mylar Bags Properly
There are very few options for disposing of Mylar bags. Since they aren’t biodegradable or recyclable through most recycling programs, the only way to dispose of them is to throw them away.
If you throw them away, they will either go to a landfill or possibly end up in the ocean, so make sure you secure any trash bags so that they at least make it to the landfill.
However, going to the landfill is not ideal either, so the best thing to do is try to reuse them for as long as possible.
4 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Mylar Bags
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative to Mylar bags, especially for food storage, then consider one of the following.
1. Resealable Kraft Bags
Kraft bags are made out of Kraft paper and there are versions of them that are resealable just like Mylar bags are.
Kraft paper bags are also biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable.
Food-grade Kraft bags can also be resistant to moisture as well. However, they may not be as resistant to other factors as Mylar bags.
2. Rice Paper Bags
Resealable bags made from rice paper are another food storage option that is more eco-friendly than Mylar bags.
Rice paper bags are biodegradable and compostable, but they aren’t moisture-resistant.
3. Silicone Resealable Bags
Silicone is considered to be a type of plastic, so these bags aren’t the most eco-friendly as far as what they are made of.
However, they can be reused over and over again since they are easy to wash out in addition to being moisture-resistant.
Silicone is also durable and you can also use silicone bags to freeze perishable food.
Plus, silicone is easier to recycle at the end of it’s life than Mylar is.
4. Glass Food Storage Containers
Glass food storage containers are another eco-friendly option compared to Mylar bags.
You can use them to extend the shelf-life of perishable food provided that you use containers that have an airtight seal.
You can also use them to store non-perishable food and glass provides a great moisture barrier as well.
Glass can also be recycled more easily than both Mylar and silicone.
Mylar bags are not eco-friendly since they are made from PET plastic film and aluminum.
They also aren’t biodegradable and are hard to recycle, plus they have the potential to create microplastics.
The benefits of Mylar bags are that they are durable, reusable, and resistant to moisture and oxygen.
However, there are better alternatives to Mylar bags that have similar properties and are more eco-friendly in certain ways.