Paper waste: to compost or not to compost

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With so much paper being thrown into garbage bins, it is a comforting idea that homeowners can reduce their waste by composting paper. Just how exactly this can be done can be mind-boggling. And with so many different types of material used for paper, it might be tempting to not bother and just throw paper into the garbage bin as usual.

Paper should not be that complicated. Here are some common paper products in typical households and whether it’s best to compost them or not.

Before going into this, it is vital to remember that compost should contain a balanced mix of brown waste such as dried leaves, wood chips, and paper, as well as green waste like food scraps and grass clippings. 

Printed papers

Inks used for printing are usually non-toxic nowadays. Just make sure to avoid heavily printed paper if the compost will be used for edible crops. Most inks are water-soluble or vegetable oil-based, but even inks made from petroleum and other minerals can also be composted. 

This means newspapers are compostable. Just make sure to cut them into small pieces to help improve the aeration of the compost heap. 

Glossy papers

Glossy papers like those used for magazines or gift wrappers are made with clay or resins, some coated with a type of plastic that makes them unsuitable for composting. This includes some receipts that are made from glossy paper.

Toilet or kitchen paper

Toilet or kitchen paper can be composed depending on what it was used for. The case with composting them is that they may introduce unwanted bacteria. Avoid composting paper that has been used with chemical cleaning agents or cosmetic products. It is also best not to compost paper that was used to clean a surface from grease.


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