Zero Waste Butter?

My husband and I cook with butter (and ghee) quite a bit. We love to cook and make almost everything at home and I’m not ashamed to admit: butter is a staple. In this way we’re very much like Bea, one of the leaders of the zero waste home movement. She famously (at least to me!) re-used her family’s butter wrappers from one year for a huge art piece.

Butter options for people going zero waste

Here are the zero waste/less waste/package-less butter options that I’ve found:

  1. Find a local farm that makes their own butter and reach out to see if you can buy butter in a jar from them.  Or set up a system where you reuse jars. They might be more comfortable with a jar “rental”/deposit system where you pay extra to have your butter packaged in a glass jar. The small fee you pay you would get back when you return the jar to them. Your farmer’s market or farms that offer CSAs are a good place to start. Currently we’re “in talks” with a local producer of grassfed butter to see how we can set up a truly zero waste system for our family… that doesn’t break the bank.
  2. Buy butter packaged in foil and re-use or recycle the wrappers. We use Kerrygold butter – both salted and unsalted. It’s grassfed, which is great. The flavor is good. It’s widely available, which means I don’t have to travel to a special store/location to get it. And, the wrappers are recyclable (see more below.) It’s imported, which isn’t so great. And it is in packaging, which is also not great. But it’s a good “gateway” and what we’re primarily using right now.
  3. Buy packaged ghee – it often comes in glass jars. One brand that’s widely available does have plastic lids, but we still re-use them for food storage. They are actually my husband’s favorite jars because they are a nice size (about 13 oz I think) and have a wide mouth. The lids are large enough that if you wanted to, you could recycle them.
  4. Make your own! You just need a few ingredients and tools. Use a stand mixer, hand mixer or blender, or a jar with a tight fitting lid. These directions from the wonderful Tori Avey seem pretty simple. I definitely plan on trying this soon, but I’m not sure it would ever replace purchasing butter since I’ve heard it can get expensive. However, I’m game to try and of course I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. I also just found out you can buy a special attachment for a mason jar to help churn butter, how cool (check listings on eBay*)!

So, are butter wrappers recyclable … or compostable? The answer is: It depends on what brand you buy and what your local waste/recycling center will accept.

Are Kerrygold grassfed butter wrappers recyclable?

Here’s how I recycle Kerrygold foil wrappers:

  • First I use every last bit of butter I can, and then I wash off the wrapper with a bit of very hot water.
  • I save up the wrappers until I have enough to crush the foil into a ball that’s more than 2 inches in diameter which is a requirement outlined by my recycling center. That size ball makes it possible for the sorting machinery at the center to properly manage the item.
  • I throw the ball in my recycling bin and the recycling center takes it from there.

Here are a few tips from theKitchn on how to repurpose non-recyclable butter wrappers. They still will end up in the landfill which isn’t ideal, but if you still have a few traditional sticks of butter on hand, try to use them to their fullest potential before then.

Also, this is kind of random but also related because, grocery shopping? Anyway – have you heard of Ibotta? I can hardly ever take advantage of coupons and cash back programs because the products are not what I’m interested in, but I’ve been trying out this app and it’s been great so far. I was surprised to see you can get cash back for basic staples like bananas, eggs, etc. If you want to try it out use my referral link to earn an extra $10.

Thanks for reading!

*Hi friends, just a heads up that this post may contain scary affiliate links and if you click, a shark will EAT YOU. Just kidding! Clicking my links just means you like my site and like reading my recommendations. Your shopping experience doesn’t change, but I might get a teeny tiny commission. Affiliate links are indicated with an asterisk.




8 thoughts on “Zero Waste Butter?

  1. Hey there, just came across this after despairing at the stack of kerrygold wrappers I’ve been saving up. I’m surprised to hear you treat them as foil. When you tear them, they tear like paper, and you can also see a thin layer of plastic in there too…has anyone confirmed that this is the correct way to recycle them? Cheers.

    1. They are able to be recycled, yes but it really depends entirely on your waste management/recycling facility! Check with them to find out for sure how they treat these kinds of wrappers. What and how things can be recycled varies greatly area to area! Hope this helps.

  2. Also we use them to separate things in the fridge or freezer instead of parchment – like layers of gluten free “naan”, etc. Anne-Marie aka Zero Waste Chef has some other ideas on how to reuse butter wrappers, too!

  3. Hi! So, to comply with food regulations, aluminum cannot be directly touching any food surface, which means those wrappers in theory must have a plastic coating on one side, or else not be made of aluminium. It seems odd for it to be made from steel. If it has a plastic coating with it still be able to be conventionally recycled? Thanks, Erin

  4. Found your post while searching for “is butter wrap recyclable”. I’m in the UK, and Tesco’s website says their organic unsalted butter’s wrap is foil but not recyclable! Did Kerrygold or any other manufacturer tell you what’s the criteria for foil being recyclable or not?

    1. Hi there! It’s a question for your local waste facility! The more I learn, the more I realize how different even town to town facilities are. Definitely reach out or check your local waste facility’s guide.

      1. Thanks! It seems incredibly complicated (I asked the council and they redirected me to the recycling company, the recycling company runs more than one scheme and based on published information I’m not on any of the common schemes!), and the lack of information seems like nobody else is asking the question, so I hope my endeavour bears fruit that benefits others too 🙂

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