Can You Compost Paper?

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Quick Answer: Can You Compost Paper?

Yes, you can compost different kinds of paper as they provide valuable carbon for your soil. It is recommended to tear or shred the paper into small pieces to fasten the decomposition. Avoid adding plastic-coated, colored, and glossy papers as they may not decompose well. Do not compost paper used to wipe grease, chemicals, and hazardous cleaning products.

In this guide, I will throw light on composting paper.

Keep reading to know more!

Can You Compost Paper?

Yes, you may compost many kinds of paper including bills, credit card statements, non-glossy junk mail, envelopes, receipts, scrap paper, and notebook papers. They help in keeping the valuable carbon for your soil.

Shred or chop the paper into small pieces to fasten the decomposition process. You may use shredders or a sharp machete for shredding large quantities of paper.

It creates high-quality humus that will improve the quality of the soil.

You may also scrunch the paper as the flat sheets don’t allow air movement. Also, it helps with eliminating foul odors due to kitchen waste.

Do not add the paper that has been used to mop bleach or other chemical products.

Other paper products, including paper towels, paperboard, tissue rolls, and newspaper may also be composted.

How To Compost Paper With Ease?

Paper is high-carbon material that acts as an absorbent in the pile and gives them structure. You may follow the lasagna or shred and spread method to compost paper. But, add only small quantities of paper.

The different steps in composting paper are as follows:

Method 1 (Lasagna way)

  • Start your compost pile– Spread four inches of chunkier, dry, brown materials, including branch trimmings, corn stalks, or straw for good aeration.
  • Add brown layer– Layer four to five inches of shredded paper or dry leaves after moistening. Toss in a few handfuls of native soil.
  • Add green layer– Layer two or three inches of green materials, including kitchen scraps, manure, or grass clippings.
  • Build your compost pile– Continue alternating and moistening layers of paper and greens ending with a layer of browns to insulate the pile. Your final pile should be three cubic feet.

Method 2 (Shred And Spread)

  • Build your compost pile – Build the compost pile as the lasagna method but chop or shred the paper into smaller pieces.
  • Turn your compost pile– Continue alternating and moistening layers of paper and greens. Turn the entire pile, making sure the materials on the outer edges get mixed to promote even decomposition. Repeat the process every two or three weeks. You will have harvestable compost after three or four turnings.

Check out this video for more information:

Can Shredded Paper Be Composted?

Yes, shredded paper can be composted. It will degrade quickly in the compost pile as it has been already cut into small pieces. It is a great source of carbon, helps retain moisture, boosts soil volume, and adds bedding for worms.

Shredded paper makes sure that the compost pile has plenty of air pockets and prevents the foul smell of the compost. 

Can You Compost Parchment Paper?

Yes, you can compost parchment paper that is unbleached and unwaxed as they do not have any chemicals on it. So, avoid composting the bleached parchment paper as it has been treated with chlorine. Chlorine releases dioxins that can be harmful to the microbes in the compost pile.

Shred the parchment paper into small pieces, soak them in warm water, and add them to your compost pile. The pieces may decompose at a faster rate.

Can You Compost Brown Paper Bags?

Yes, you may compost most of the brown paper bags. You may add brown paper bags made from unadulterated natural materials, including plain paper and cardboard to the compost pile. But, they can not be composted if they are lined with non-biodegradable plastic, thin metal, or wax.

Brown paper bags are considered a source of carbon. It is preferable to tear or cut them into small pieces to aid in the decomposition process.

Alternatively, you may also recycle them.

Can You Compost Newspaper?

Yes, the newspaper may be composted. Most newspapers now use vegetable dyes and no longer contain heavy metals. So, they may be used sparingly as a carbon source in your compost pile. Shred, tear, or scrunch up before adding to the compost bin.

One concern with many composters is the presence of carbon black ink, which contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

These are carcinogens and most scientific research indicates that PAHs are rendered inert in hot compost piles.

So, you may use them in small amounts. Also, take care to shred the paper.


Can you compost junk mail?

Yes, you may compost junk mail if the leaflets do not contain plastic. You may tear a page to check if it has plastic before composting. You may compost both black-and-white and colored printing. Scrunch it up before adding it to the compost pile.

Can you compost cardboard?

Yes, you may compost corrugated cardboard or flat cardboard, including cereal boxes, drink boxes, and shoe boxes. Those cardboards laminated with wax or non-degradable foil lining are more difficult to compost. The shredded cardboard works best.

Bottom Line

I hope this guide has helped you understand the basics of paper composting. Also, please share your thoughts on composting different types of paper.