Can You Compost Cardboard and How To?

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Last Updated on October 29, 2022

Are you planning to start a compost pile? If you are, then you are in the right place. Do we know you might be wondering which materials are compostable? This is why in this guide; we will be discussing how you can compost cardboard papers.

Not all materials are safe to add to a compost pile. Kitchen waste such as vegetables and other green materials can be composted for use in improving your garden soil. without wasting more time, let’s find out how best to use cardboard in a compost pile.

Why Compost Cardboard?

Adding cardboard to your compost is a good way to provide nutrients for your garden plants. It is also a good way for you to reduce paper waste in your home. So if you happen to have a backyard garden, you can toss those empty paper cartons into a compost bin.

Can you Compost Cardboard and How To?

Cardboard and empty paper packages are some of the materials that are piling up in landfills. Using them to make compost is a great way to reduce environmental waste and protect the environment. There are different types of cardboard paper so you want to note which one you are adding to your compost.

Can You Compost Cardboard?

Yes, you can. It doesn’t matter the type of paper; you can include it in your compost bin. Cereal boxes, empty delivery packages, cartons, and other cardboard materials can be composted with the right practice.

Cardboard papers coated with other materials such as wax may be difficult to compost. This is why you need to ensure that your cardboard paper is safe to be included in a compost bin.

Adding Cardboard to Compost

Cardboard paper is a good way to improve the carbon-to-nitrogen content of your compost pile. When adding cardboard papers to a compost heap, you want to avoid adding the colored ones. This is because they usually contain other additives that may not be safe for your compost pile.

Brown or plain colored cardboard papers are the best to use in composting. You also want to ensure that they are shredded before adding them to your compost. This makes it easier for it to decompose quickly. Without measures such as this to speed up the compost time, it can take more than a year for your pile to be ready for use.

Can you Compost Cardboard and How To?

Speeding the Compost Time

One of the problems of composting is that it can take a long time for the compost pile to be ready. Without the right compost practice, many of the materials in your compost pile will not undergo any decomposition. So how then can you speed up things and get your compost pile to ready as soon as possible?

You can achieve this by:

Ensuring Materials Are Properly Sized

Before adding your cardboard paper and other materials to your compost pile, you want to ensure that you do your best to shred them. you can make use of a shredder or use scissors to resize your papers. This is important as large size materials take a longer time to turn to organic matter.

Also, when the compost materials are properly sized, it makes it easy for the microbial activities to begin. A small sized compost pile gets heated up quickly compared to a large one. So you want to take note of this important tip.

Turn It Regularly

In addition to ensuring the materials are properly sized, you want to also turn the pile regularly. This is because oxygen is required for microbial activity to take place. And the only way you can do this is to turn the pile manually. You can do this with a rake or a garden fork if you are worried about getting your hand soiled.

Can you Compost Cardboard and How To

Poke the garden fork into the materials and try to spread them uniformly. Get the materials at the bottom to the top of the pile. You should do this one a week or twice. This should make it easy for the pile to be aerated and compost quickly.

Maintain a Balanced Ratio

A good compost pile should consist of the right amount of green and brown materials. The carbon to nitrogen ratio should be kept at 20:1. Materials that are rich in carbon that you can add to your compost pile include shredded paper, straws, sawdust, wood chips, and corn stalks. While examples of nitrogen-rich materials include kitchen waste, grass clippings, garden weed, and even coffee grounds.

Water It Regularly

Your compost pile needs to be kept moist for microbial activity to take place. This means that you will need to add water to it regularly. You don’t need to soak your compost pile in water. Sprinkle water on the materials regularly as often as you turn it.

Use the Right Bin Size

A common mistake most people make when composting is using the wrong size of the compost bin. You should ensure that the materials you add to the bin fit properly. You shouldn’t use a large bin to compost small materials. This is because it takes more time for the materials in the bin to get heated, this slows down the rate of decomposition.


You can purchase a compost bin or use any type of bin that is available to you. But whichever one you choose, you want to ensure that it has a lid and is perfectly sized.

Other Uses of Cardboard Paper in the Garden

Apart from composting, you can also use cardboard paper in:


You can use cardboard paper to mulch your garden. This helps to prevent the outbreak of weeds and diseases. It also helps to improve the condition of the soil. you can add cardboard paper as a side dressing or directly to the surface of your soil.

Trench Lining System

Cardboard paper can also be used to build a trench lining system in your garden. These trenches help to retain water for thirsty plants and make nutrients available for plant roots.   


How do you break down cardboard for compost?

The first thing to do is to cut the cardboard into manageable pieces. You can either use scissors, a knife or a pair of wire cutters. The other option is to use a cardboard shredder that will shred the cardboard into tiny pieces. It is recommended to use a paper shredder, but if you don’t have one, you can use a cardboard shredder.

When cutting the cardboard, you should try to avoid cutting it into long strips because these strips will be harder to break down. After the cardboard has been broken down, you can add it to your compost bin. Make sure that the cardboard gets mixed in with all the other yard trimmings and leaves.

How long does it take for cardboard to decompose in a garden?

Cardboard will decompose fairly quickly in soil. I have seen cardboard boxes disintegrate into small pieces over the course of about 3 weeks. A more recent (2011. study found that cardboard will decompose in soil within 1 year.   Decomposition rates of cardboard in soil vary with temperature, moisture, and time. Soil type also has an effect.

In general, decomposition rates increase with soil temperatures above 50°F, but decrease at lower temperatures. The rate of decomposition also depends on the amount of oxygen available. The higher the oxygen content, the faster the rate of decomposition. As a rule, decomposition is faster in warmer environments, but it can occur in cooler environments if there are high concentrations of carbon dioxide or oxygen.

Do pizza boxes go in compost?

There are many different types of pizza boxes out there. The best ones are made from recycled materials such as paper or cardboard. They are also called "biodegradable" or "compostable." These boxes will decompose in a compost pile. The ones that have a plastic bottom or are made from styrofoam will not decompose in a compost pile and can be recycled. Many stores sell pizza boxes made from these materials.

Can I put shredded newspaper in my compost bin?

This is a no-no. Composting with newspaper will create lots of odor and attract bugs that will eat the newspaper and your compost. 

Can you compost paper towels?

The answer is yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind. In general, paper products made from recycled fiber can be composted if they are free of food, medicine, or other substances that might contaminate the composting process. In addition, paper products should not contain additives that could make them difficult to compost.

Can I put cereal boxes in compost?

Yes you can put cereal boxes and other containers into your compost bin. You will need to add them to your regular pile or compost pile, and make sure that the bin is not too hot or wet at any time. The best way to do this is to put the boxes on top of your pile. You can also use the box as a cover over the pile, but this will keep the pile from drying out.


Cardboard paper is a good compost material you can add to your bin. You want to remember to shred them into tiny pieces and use only plain one sin your compost pile.

have you made a compost pile before? What are the materials you used? We will like to hear from you in the comment section. 

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