Unraveling the Mystery: Can Paper Really be Composted?

Can Paper Be Composted?

Composting has become increasingly popular as people seek more sustainable ways to manage their household waste. While most of us are familiar with composting food scraps and yard trimmings, there’s often confusion about whether paper can be composted too. In this blog post, we will explore the question: Can paper be composted? Let’s find out!

The Basics of Composting

Before diving into whether paper is suitable for composting, let’s first understand the basics of how composting works. Composting is a natural process that involves breaking down organic materials, such as fruit peels, vegetable scraps, leaves, and grass clippings. These materials decompose over time due to the action of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi.

Paper Types That Can Be Composted

Luckily for eco-conscious individuals who have heaps of scrap paper lying around, many types of paper can indeed be added to your compost pile or bin.


Newspapers with soy-based ink make an excellent addition to your compost pile. Ensure you shred them into smaller pieces before adding them to speed up decomposition.

Coffee Filters:

If you’re a coffee lover using unbleached filters made from recycled material (bleached ones should not be used), toss them in your compost when finished brewing. They will break down naturally over time.

Brown Paper Bags:

If you have brown paper bags cluttering up your pantry or kitchen cabinets, fear not! Brown bags are perfectly safe for composting since they are typically made from unbleached cardboard or Kraft paper.

Paper Types That Shouldn’t Be Composted

While many types of paper can be composted, there are a few exceptions that you should avoid adding to your compost pile:

Glossy or Coated Paper:

Paper with glossy finishes, such as magazines and shiny brochures, should not be composted. These papers often contain chemicals and additives that may hinder the natural decomposition process.

Colored Paper:

Avoid including colored paper in your composting efforts. The dyes used in colored paper can potentially introduce harmful substances into your soil or affect the quality of the final compost.

Tips for Composting Paper

If you’re considering adding paper to your composting routine, keep these tips in mind:

Shredding is Key:

To speed up the decomposition process and ensure even breakdown, shredding larger pieces of paper into smaller bits is highly recommended. This increases surface area and exposes more edges for microorganisms to work on.

Mix with Other Organic Materials:

In order to achieve a well-balanced carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio) for optimal decomposition, mix shredded paper with other organic materials like kitchen scraps or garden waste. This helps create a nutritious environment for beneficial bacteria and fungi.

The Verdict: Yes, Paper Can Be Composted!

In conclusion, most types of plain paper products without any artificial coatings or chemical treatments are suitable for composting. Simply shred them into smaller pieces before adding them to your backyard composter or municipal green bin system. Remember to balance it out by mixing with other organic materials while maintaining an appropriate C:N ratio in order to produce nutrient-rich compost that will benefit your plants and gardens.

So go ahead – reduce waste and embrace sustainable practices by composting your paper waste!