Can I compost paper towels?

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Can I compost paper towels?

Paper towels: either love or hate them, but they are a part of most of our everyday lives.

Are paper towels compostable?

Paper towels do come in very handy on occasion, but can you put them in your compost bin? The answer is generally yes, because they are a nitrogen-rich organic material that is much better off in a composting bin than filling up a landfill, but it also depends on what mess you’ve cleaned up with that paper towel.

paper towels

Paper towels are like any other paper product when it comes to composting. Having originated from wood they can be categorised as a carbon ‘brown’.

What does a compost pile need to survive?

A healthy compost pile needs a mix of dry, carbon-rich ‘brown’ items, such as dry leaves, wood branches, sawdust, and vacuum cleaner dust and wet, nitrogen-rich ‘green’ items such as lawn clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, weeds, and plant clippings.

Most compost heaps tend to be high in nitrates, ‘greens’, so you will need to add more carbon ‘browns’ to keep the compost pile working well. This is where paper bags, newspapers, paper plates, cardboard rolls and paper towels are useful and shredding, cutting, or tearing them into small pieces will help accelerate the decomposition process.

Both single ply and quilted paper towels will break down and decompose easily and even bleached, bright white paper towels will break down quickly and the bleach used in the production process will not actually accumulate in the food chain.

composting paper towelsNot all messes are created equal

Depending on what your paper towels have been used to clean up, however, may be unsuitable for composting.

Paper towels used to dry hands can be composted. Paper towels that have been used to clean up dirt, water, food-waste or spilt drinks can go straight into the compost bin. Even tissues that you blow your nose in are safe for composting. Keen for your business to save the planet? Speak with our hygiene specialists today.

Oil and grease are not so good

If you use a paper towel to clean up oil, butter, or anything greasy, however, do not put it in your compost. Oil or grease in a compost heap can force air out, creating an oxygen-free environment that anaerobic bacteria (the smelly ones) love. These critters not only destroy your compost, but they also make your pile smell bad.

Thinking carefully about cleaning products

If you are mopping up or using cleaning chemicals with paper towels, you need to think twice before throwing them in the compost. Paper towels that are soaked in cleaning products could be harmful to the macro and microorganisms that exist within compost. Even all natural organic, or green cleaners will kill bacteria.

can I compost paper toweslMost of the time, there will be relatively small quantities of chemicals on your paper towels, but as you don’t know how they will affect the macro and microorganism hanging out in your pile, you do need to give chucking them in the compost some consideration. It may well be that erring on the side of caution is the best approach and you could just put them in the rubbish instead.

Paper towels that can help us all

Recycled paper products at INSINC are on a roll. We sell 100% recycled paper towels, many bleach free. Businesses can now easily find a variety of brands of recycled tissues and paper towels that are kinder to the planet that grew them and easily compostable. It is time to get serious about composting because the benefits are all too great to dismiss. We carry a very extensive range of sustainable, eco-friendly food service products, so, if you, like us, want to make a difference, simply call 0508 467 462 to speak to a member of our team.

Posted: Monday 14 June 2021