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Can You Compost Cardboard? What You Need To Know!

stacks of cardboard

Composting is an eco-friendly way to deal with the organic waste you produce daily. More and more people are researching this fantastic hobby and making it a habit. Other than the usual organic waste you’ve turned into compost such as eggshells, banana peels, nutshells, and other food scraps, cardboard is another ideal material to add to compost.

Cardboard is a perfect composting material because it’s biodegradable, and once it is wet, it will release carbon which is an excellent fuel combined with other organic waste.

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What Is Composting?

Composting is a method of creating fertilizer for your soil by only using organic material and waste. This organic waste can be almost any type of kitchen waste that we all produce daily, as long as it is not meat or dairy. By composting, you will enrich the soil with vital nutrients, and once the waste degrades, you can even use this organic fertilizer for your vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Many people are beginning composting because it is eco-friendly and affordable, plus, it provides your garden with homemade nutrient-rich soil.

Photo Credit By: herb007, Pixabay

Can You Compost Cardboard?

If you are wondering if cardboard is compostable, the answer is yes. Cardboard is an excellent item to compost because there is always plenty of it available as trash and it can serve as an excellent fertilizer for your soil. Most cardboard is compostable, however, some cardboard boxes are lined with plastic, so make sure to either remove the plastic before throwing it in the compost pile or stay away from it altogether.

Plastic is not an organic material and composting will never be able to degrade it, so adding these boxes to your pile can only hurt the process of composting. Most cardboard is entirely bio-degradable, but if there are any plastic labels or pieces of plastic attached, make sure to remove them.

Types of Cardboard

If you’ve already collected cardboard boxes or pieces ready for trash or a compost pile, know that there are three types of compostable cardboard boxes:

  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Flat cardboard
  • Wax-coated cardboard

1. Corrugated Cardboard

corrugated cardboards
Photo Credit By: _Alicja_, Pixabay

Corrugated Cardboard is ribbed, has multiple layers, and is used primarily for packaging. This type of cardboard is excellent for your compost pile; just make sure to shred it into smaller pieces, as smaller pieces will degrade faster in the compost pile.

2. Flat cardboard

cardboard tissue paper roll cores
Photo Credit By: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

This type of cardboard is very thin and is easiest to break down in the compost pile. It is mostly used for packaging smaller items. Before adding this cardboard to your compost pile, you may need to shred it into smaller strips of cardboard to break down faster, but since this is a very thin material, it is not always necessary to break it down.

3. Wax-coated cardboard

white waxed corrugated cardboard
Image Credit: stux, Pixabay

Wax-coated cardboard is the hardest for the soil to break down. This cardboard is mostly used for transporting and packaging food products. Because the wax makes it safer for holding raw food products, this cardboard type is not reusable. Composting is still an option, although you will probably need to remove the wax before adding this cardboard to your compost. If removing wax is not possible, then it may be best for the wax cardboard to be recycled.

Benefits of Composting Cardboard

There are multiple benefits to composting cardboard:

  • Cardboard is great at absorbing and retaining any excess fluids and absorbing moisture, holding it, and then releasing it into the soil again when needed.
  • Cardboard is an excellent fuel and additive to healthy soil. Once it is wet, it will release all the carbon it contains, which will turn the soil into nutrient-rich humus that your vegetables will love.
  • Cardboard will help aerate the soil and provide it with air circulation, which is needed for the composting process to develop correctly.
  • If your compost pile is placed outdoors, cardboard is an excellent material that can hold extra heat inside the composting pile in cold conditions.
compost bin with cardboard
Image Credit: Eric Pahl, Shutterstock

Tips and Tricks for Composting Cardboard:

  • It is best to turn or tumble your composting pile from time to time to provide good aeration.
  • Make sure to shred the cardboard into smaller pieces before adding it to the compost pile. This way, you ensure that the cardboard will break up faster.
  • Remove any plastic on your cardboard to ensure your composting pile won’t be compromised with non-organic material.
  • Stay away from cardboard boxes that contain heavy dyes. The chemicals in the dye will only hurt your soil and plants in the long run.
  • It is best if you layer the materials in your compost pile. This is also called the “lasagna” layering method because the cardboard doesn’t need to be shredded. It is essential to layer various organic waste with each layer of thin cardboard. This way, you will maintain a green-brown balance in your compost pile, and the organic materials will degrade faster.
  • Try using rainwater for providing moisture to your composting pile because rainwater has an ideal, neutral pH level.

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Final Thoughts on Composting Cardboard

Composting is an effortless habit that requires minimum maintenance, but it is a rewarding process that leaves you with an organic, homemade fertilizer for your plants. You can place your compost pile outdoors or even indoors as a composting bin. Many organic waste products are available all around your house, and you can compost any cardboard boxes that take up extra space. Try layering the unshredded cardboard with other organic waste; it may need more time to degrade, but it will require almost no maintenance.

Featured Image Credit: Wokandapix, Pixabay


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