A composting bin

Can I put packing paper in my compost bin?


It's complicated, whether you can put packing paper into your composting bin, so read on!

Key info
Brown material📂
2-5 months

Get the right balance of brown and green composting materials in your bin with our expert guide.

Composting Packing Paper: A Sustainable Solution for Reducing Waste

Can You Compost Packing Paper?

The answer is yes, you can compost packing paper as long as it is clean and free from grease or other contaminants. Packing paper, along with other paper products like cardboard boxes, paper bags, and shredded paper, can be an excellent addition to your compost pile. By composting these materials, we can reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for our gardens.

Why Compost Paper Products?

Composting paper products is an eco-friendly way to manage waste and reduce our environmental impact. When we compost paper, we divert it from landfills where it would otherwise contribute to methane emissions and take up valuable space. Instead, the composting process breaks down the paper into a valuable soil amendment that can improve soil structure, retain moisture, and provide essential nutrients to plants.

The Role of Paper in Composting

In composting, paper is considered a carbon-rich material, also known as "brown matter." Carbon-rich materials provide the energy that microbes need to break down the organic matter in the compost pile. Other examples of brown matter include dry leaves, straw, and wood chips. To create a healthy compost pile, we need to balance carbon-rich materials with nitrogen-rich materials, or "green matter," such as fresh grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds. The Master the Green-brown mix ebook can help you achieve the perfect balance.

How to Compost Packing Paper

To compost packing paper, we first need to ensure that it is clean and free from any contamination. Remove any tape, labels, or plastic from the paper before composting. If the packing paper is heavily printed or contains glossy coatings, it's best to avoid composting it as these materials may contain harmful chemicals.

Preparing Paper for Composting

Once we have clean packing paper, we can prepare it for composting by shredding or tearing it into smaller pieces. This process increases the surface area of the paper, making it easier for microbes to break it down. We can use a compost shredder or simply tear the paper by hand into strips or small pieces.

Adding Paper to Your Compost Bin

After preparing the packing paper, we can add it to our compost bin along with other organic materials. Aim for a mix of about 1 part green matter to 2-3 parts brown matter. This ratio helps maintain the proper balance of carbon and nitrogen in the compost pile, which is essential for efficient decomposition. As we add materials to the compost bin, be sure to mix them well and keep the pile moist but not soggy.

Other Compostable Paper Products

In addition to packing paper, there are many other paper products that we can compost, such as:

  • Cardboard boxes (broken down and shredded)
  • Brown paper bags
  • Newspaper (avoid glossy inserts)
  • Paper towels and napkins (unbleached and free from cleaning chemicals)
  • Shredded office paper (avoid heavily printed or glossy paper)

By composting these paper products, we can significantly reduce our household waste and create a valuable resource for our gardens.

Eco-Friendly Packaging Alternatives

While composting packing paper is a great way to reduce waste, we can also make a difference by choosing eco-friendly packaging alternatives. Some sustainable packaging options include:

  • Biodegradable packing peanuts made from cornstarch or other plant-based materials
  • Corrugated cardboard made from recycled content
  • Mushroom packaging, which is made from agricultural waste and mycelium (mushroom roots)
  • Compostable mailers made from materials like corn starch or PBAT (a biodegradable polymer)

By opting for these sustainable packaging materials, we can reduce our reliance on non-biodegradable plastics and styrofoam, which can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I compost glossy or heavily printed paper?

It's best to avoid composting glossy or heavily printed paper, as these materials may contain harmful chemicals that can contaminate your compost. Stick to plain, uncoated paper whenever possible.

2. How long does it take for packing paper to decompose in a compost pile?

The decomposition time for packing paper in a compost pile can vary depending on factors like the size of the paper pieces, moisture levels, and the overall composition of the pile. Generally, it can take anywhere from 2-6 months for the paper to fully break down.

3. Can I compost paper with tape or labels on it?

Before composting paper, be sure to remove any tape, labels, or other non-compostable materials. These items can contaminate your compost and may not break down properly.

4. What is the ideal ratio of brown matter to green matter in a compost pile?

A healthy compost pile should have a ratio of about 2-3 parts brown matter (carbon-rich materials like paper and dry leaves) to 1 part green matter (nitrogen-rich materials like food scraps and grass clippings). This balance helps maintain the proper nutrient levels and promotes efficient decomposition.

Search again?