A composting bin

Can I put paper in my compost bin?


It's complicated, whether you can put 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.

A Comprehensive Guide to Composting Different Types of Paper Waste

Composting Plain White Paper

We can easily compost uncoated printer and notebook paper in our backyard compost piles. These types of paper contain carbon and fibers that break down well during the composting process. To speed up decomposition, we recommend tearing the sheets into 1-inch strips or shredding them before adding them to the compost. However, we should avoid composting glossy printed paper, as it may contain heavy metals that can be harmful to the environment.

Composting Newspaper

Newspapers are an excellent source of browns and carbon, which help balance the greens and nitrogen in our compost. The lignin in paper, however, can resist breakdown. To overcome this, we suggest tearing the newspaper sheets into strips or shredding them to speed up decomposition. To limit chemical exposure, we recommend using unprinted newsprint sections like classifieds for composting.

Adding Cardboard Boxes to Compost

Clean corrugated cardboard is an abundant source of carbon for decomposition. Before adding cardboard to our compost, we must remove any plastic tape, labels, or laminated coatings. To increase surface area and promote faster breakdown, we should shred the cardboard or cut it into smaller pieces. We advise against using heavily dyed or printed cardboard from packaged goods to avoid introducing unnecessary chemicals into the compost.

Composting Food-Soiled Paper Products

We can compost used paper towels, plates, napkins, and takeout containers if they are not overly printed with dyes or chemicals. It's best to stick to unbleached natural papers for composting. We should avoid composting any paper products that have been in contact with cleaners, lotions, or glossy prints, as these may introduce toxins into the compost pile.

Composting Tissue Paper

Plain white facial and toilet tissue papers are good compost materials. However, we should avoid composting scented, decorative, or plastic-embedded tissue types, as they may contain non-compostable additions. Before adding any specialty tissue products to our compost, we must always check the labeling to ensure they are compostable.

Paper Items to Avoid in Compost

We should not add heavily dyed, metallic printed, or plastic-coated papers to our compost pile. Additionally, we must avoid any paper soiled with chemicals, cleaners, pesticides, or other possible toxins. To ensure the safety and quality of our compost, we should only add known plain paper products to our backyard compost piles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most compostable type of paper?

Unbleached natural kraft paper, newsprint, cardboard, and napkins offer the safest options for composting.

Does ink on paper affect composting?

Standard inks are non-toxic, but we should limit intake. Shredding or tearing paper helps reduce exposure to inks.

Can shiny magazines be composted?

No, glossy paper often has plastic bonded to it and may contain heavy metals from dyes. We should not compost magazines.

Is wax paper compostable?

No, wax paper has petroleum-based coatings that won't break down through composting.

By following these paper composting guidelines, we can create a healthy, balanced mix for our backyard compost piles while limiting exposure to dyes, chemicals, and plastics when adding paper waste.

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