Exploring the Green Revolution: Are Cereal Boxes Truly Compostable?

Are Cereal Boxes Compostable?

An Introduction to Composting and Sustainable Packaging

Composting has gained popularity as an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and nourish the soil. As individuals strive for more sustainable practices, they often question whether everyday items like cereal boxes are compostable. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of cereal box packaging and explore if it is indeed compostable.

The Composition of Cereal Boxes

To determine if cereal boxes can be composted, let’s first understand their composition. Most cereal boxes are made from a combination of materials – predominantly paperboard with a thin layer of plastic or wax coating on the inside for moisture resistance. The paperboard itself is typically composed of recycled cardboard fibers.


Paperboard is derived from wood pulp sourced from sustainably managed forests or recycled paper. It is biodegradable and breaks down easily in suitable conditions.

Plastic/Wax Coating:

The thin layer of plastic or wax on the inner side of cereal boxes provides resistance against moisture, keeping your breakfast crispy until you open it. Unfortunately, this coating poses a challenge when it comes to composting.

The Challenges with Composting Cereal Boxes

While most components of cereal boxes are compostable, the presence of plastic or wax coatings makes them non-compostable through typical means such as backyard composting systems. These coatings take significantly longer to break down compared to natural materials like paperboard.

The process involved in commercial composting facilities allows higher temperatures and specialized machinery that can potentially break down these coatings over time; however, not all facilities are equipped for this task either due to lack of infrastructure or limitations in accepted materials.

Therefore, throwing your entire cereal box into your home composter may hinder its decomposition process since the plastic or wax coating will remain intact.

How to Make Cereal Boxes Compostable

While composting cereal boxes in their entirety may not be feasible, you can still make them more environmentally friendly by separating the components before disposal.

Step 1: Remove Plastic/Wax Coating:

Start by carefully separating the plastic or wax coating from the paperboard. This can be done by scraping it off gently with a knife or using warm water and soap to dissolve it away. Remember to rinse off any remaining residue thoroughly.

Step 2: Compost Paperboard:

After removing the non-compostable coatings, cut or shred the paperboard into smaller pieces to accelerate decomposition. Ensure that these pieces are free of excessive ink since some printing inks contain chemicals that may hinder compostability.

Step 3: Add to Composter:

Now, add your shredded paperboard into your home composter, mix it well with other organic matter like kitchen scraps and yard waste for optimal composting conditions.

The Benefits of Composting Cereal Boxes

Even though cereal boxes have their composting challenges due to plastic or wax coatings, there are still significant benefits to incorporating them into your composting routine:

1. Waste Reduction: By diverting cereal boxes from landfills and including them in your composter instead, you contribute towards reducing waste accumulation and promoting a circular economy.

2. Soil Enrichment: The broken down paperboard adds valuable nutrients back into the soil when used as compost. It improves soil structure and promotes healthier plant growth.

3. Environmental Conservation: Opting for sustainable disposal methods like composting helps conserve natural resources while minimizing pollution associated with traditional waste management systems.

In conclusion, while cereal boxes themselves may not be entirely compostable due to non-biodegradable coatings present, you can still make them compost-friendly by removing these coatings and composting the paperboard separately. By adopting this practice, you actively contribute to waste reduction and sustainable living.