Compostable paper bags are no longer just a passing trend or relegated to the select few companies serving wealthy customers. Today, large retail corporations and mom-and-pop shops alike set the bar high and choose compostable paper bags for their customers.

Substituting plastic bags with compostable paper bags is an excellent idea. But are paper bags compostable? Do they decompose like other plant materials?

Plastic bags are some of the worst pollutants in the world today. But with more and more people becoming environmentally conscious, there has been a huge push for environmentally friendly paper bags. Enter compostable paper bags.

Paper bags are increasingly considered the eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags because they are manufactured from sustainable materials and can be safely and easily composted or recycled.

Even though they are all made of paper, adding toxic chemicals during manufacturing could make them unfit for composting. And though they can be recycled, this question remains; are all paper bags compostable?

Check out our article about how to add worms to your compost pile.

Can you make compost out of paper bags?

You can make compost out of paper bags as long as they don’t contain toxic materials. Paper bags without ink or heavy metals a compostable. According to one study, paper contains less toxic material than grass or straw.

You can make compost out of brown paper bags because they are manufactured from natural materials that are easily compostable. All compostable brown paper bags are made from natural cardboard and plain paper materials.

And because composting requires natural ingredients like carbon (paper) and nitrogen (plants), you get the perfect compost for your garden and flowers when you mix paper and plant materials.

However, not all brown bags are made from 100% natural materials. For example, grease-proof brown paper bags can contain grease-proof film. So can paper bags be composted? Yes, but paper bags should be made with compostable materials to be composted.

What makes paper bags compostable?

Cellulose or plant-derived materials make paper bags compostable. In order to be compostable, paper bags must be made entirely of plant-based material. Even the ink and adhesives used on paper bags should be plant-based if you want to compost them.

What to do with compostable paper bags?

The most eco-friendly way to dispose of compostable paper bags is to send them to an industrial or commercial composting facility. If this kind of composting facility isn’t available in your area, check if you can donate your paper bags to someone’s composting pile.

The best option is to compost your paper bags in your own compost bin, where they’ll break down with the right mixture of microbes, heat, and time.

What kind of paper are compostable paper bags are made of?

Before tossing a paper bag in your compost bin, make sure it’s made of compostable paper.

How do you know if a paper bag is compostable?

Most paper bags are compostable as long as they are free from toxic materials. You can compost paper that you couldn’t otherwise recycle like greasy lunch paper bags.

Are all paper bags compostable?

All paper bags are compostable. Some ingredients would make paper bags unfit for composting. Don’t compost bags with plastic, metal or toxic ingredients. Keep paper bags covered with dye, film, or wax out of your compost bin.

Can I compost recycled paper bags?

You can compost recycled paper bags. Recycled paper bags are 100% percent environmentally friendly. Using recycled paper reduces overreliance on harvesting trees as raw materials for paper bags. And it also reduces deforestation. In addition, it’s considered responsible waste management because using recycled paper helps reduce the carbon footprint.

You may be asking, are recycled brown paper bags compostable? Recycled paper bags are completely biodegradable in a compost bin.

Can you compost brown paper bags?

You can compost brown paper bags.

Are white paper bags compostable?

White paper bags are compostable.

How to dispose of compostable paper bags?

Whether you are looking to adopt environmentally-friendly packaging within your business or at home, compostable paper bags can be safely disposed of in several ways.

You can place compostable paper bags with garden waste taken away for composting. You should check with your city to make sure that they accept compostable paper bags.

If you want to dispose of your compostable bags at home, this can be done on a home compost bin, providing the bags or film are home compostable.

Can you compost paper bags with ink?

You can compost paper bags with ink. Most inks used to print on paper bags are soy-based. But, you can always check with the store to make sure they give you a paper bag with ink that is compostable.

What is the easiest way to compost paper bags?

The easiest way to compost paper bags is to shred them. Once shredded, mix with plant materials (plant trimmings, vegetable scraps, grass trimmings, leaves, and fruits).

Is it OK to put shredded paper bags in compost?

It’s OK to put shredded paper bags in compost as long they don’t contain heavy inks, strong dyes, and other chemicals that make them unsuitable for composting.

Are Whole Foods paper bags compostable?

Whole Foods paper bags are compostable. The ink on Whole Foods paper bags is made with water-based ink and mineral-derived pigment.

Should you compost or recycle paper bags?

When it comes to most paper bags, recycling is the better alternative. Composting paper bags is less desirable because it doesn’t reduce the number of trees that need to be harvested like recycling. In addition, recycling paper bags creates less air pollution, requires less energy, and uses less water than making paper bags from virgin materials.

However, there are times when composting paper bags is the better option. We already know that greasy paper bags are best composted.

How to compost paper bags?

Do I need to shred paper bags for composting?

It’s best to shred paper bags for composting. And if you can’t shred the paper bags, break them into smaller chunks before adding the pieces to your compost pile. Shredded paper is easy to mix into your compost pile and it will also expedite the decomposing of your paper bags.

Can I compost dirty paper bags?

You should remove non-compostable waste before composting paper bags. If your paper bags a soiled with meat or dairy items, wipe them clean before shredding.

Can I compost paper bags without any other compostable materials mixed in?

Mix a large quantity of plant materials to keep your compost well balanced. If you try to compost paper bags without plenty of nitrogen-rich materials it will throw off its carbon (paper) to nitrogen (plants) balance.

How to store paper bags before composting?

Collect paper bags in a dry place before you are ready to make compost. Keep your paper bags separate from compostable food wastes until you shred them and add them to your compost bin or pile.

Should I wear gloves when composting paper bags?

You don’t need to wear gloves when composting paper bags. However, if you compost pet manure, which contains bacteria harmful to humans, you should wear gloves. Composted paper bags can be handled just as you would garden soil.

Can I compost paper bags in the winter?

You can compost paper bags in the winter. Even if you lived on the South Pole, you could successfully compost your paper bags.

If you cover your compost pile in the fall, it will retain heat longer. Covering your compost insulates the container. You can use leaves from your yard to cover the compost pile.

You might need to use a compost activator or increase the amount of “green” to keep the temperature up. You can continue to add shredded paper bags to the compost through the winter. From looking at your compost, it may not seem to be doing much, but the shredded paper bags will quickly finish breaking down when spring arrives.

Do I need a bin to compost paper bags?

You don’t need a bin to compost paper bags. Paper bags will eventually decompose without human intervention. But composting paper bags in a container will keep your pile neat. A composting bin will also protect it from pests and the weather and pests and make the job of caring for it much more manageable.

What is the best place to compost paper bags?

Pick a sheltered spot in your yard to compost paper bags. Keep your compost pile out of the full summer sun if possible. Avoid shrubs and trees that may push their roots up into your compost pile. And give a little thought to both appearance and convenience in choosing a location for your compost.

How long do paper bags take to decompose?

It takes up to eight weeks for paper bags to decompose. Shredding paper bags expedite the decomposing process of paper bags.

It takes longer for unshredded paper bags to break down, especially in a less than optimal compost environment. For example, if the compost pile is large and lacks oxygen, it could take up to a year for paper bags to decompose.

Final thoughts on composting paper bags

As long as your paper bags are clean from toxic materials, rest assured that they’re safe to add to your compost bin. Not only are paper bags safe to compost, but they contribute brown (carbon) material to your compost pile.