Composting Cardboard: A Sustainable Solution to Waste Management

  • By: Sam Richards
  • Date: August 21, 2023
  • Time to read: 3 min.

Discover how composting cardboard is an environmentally friendly and sustainable way to manage waste while creating nutrient-rich soil amendments for gardens and landscapes. In this article, we’ll explore the process of composting cardboard, the types of cardboard suitable for composting, and the benefits it offers to both the environment and your garden.

The Cardboard Composting Process

Types of Cardboard Suitable for Composting:

  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Paperboard
  • Avoiding waxed, plastic-coated, or glossy cardboard

Understanding which types of cardboard are suitable for composting is essential. Corrugated cardboard and paperboard are ideal materials, while waxed, plastic-coated, or glossy cardboard should be avoided due to the potential introduction of contaminants.

Preparing Cardboard for Composting:

  • Removing tape, labels, and stickers
  • Shredding or tearing into smaller pieces
  • Soaking cardboard in water

When preparing cardboard for composting, it’s crucial to remove tape, labels, and stickers, as they won’t decompose and may release harmful chemicals into your compost. Shredding or tearing the cardboard into smaller pieces increases the surface area for decomposition, speeding up the process. Soaking the cardboard in water before adding it to your compost pile helps break it down more quickly and makes it easier to mix with other materials.

Incorporating Cardboard into a Compost Pile:

  • Balancing carbon and nitrogen ratios
  • Layering cardboard with other compostable materials
  • Maintaining proper moisture and aeration

Incorporating cardboard into your compost pile involves balancing carbon and nitrogen ratios. Cardboard is high in carbon, so balance it with nitrogen-rich materials like grass clippings, fruit, and vegetable scraps, or coffee grounds. Layering cardboard with other compostable materials ensures even decomposition, and maintaining proper moisture and aeration are key for a successful compost pile.

Troubleshooting Common Cardboard Composting Issues

  1. Pests
  2. Slow decomposition
  3. Foul odors

Sometimes, you might encounter issues when composting cardboard. To prevent pests, cover your compost pile and avoid adding food scraps that attract rodents and insects. If decomposition is slow, try increasing moisture, aeration, or nitrogen content. To address foul odors, ensure proper aeration and balance of materials in your compost pile.

Benefits of Composting Cardboard

  1. Reducing landfill waste
  2. Supporting healthy soil structure
  3. Promoting biodiversity
  4. Saving money on garden amendments

Composting cardboard offers several advantages, including reducing landfill waste, supporting healthy soil structure, promoting biodiversity, and saving money on garden amendments. By diverting cardboard from landfills, you help reduce methane emissions and conserve valuable space. Composted cardboard also improves soil texture, drainage, and water retention, while encouraging beneficial microorganisms and insects in your garden.


Composting cardboard is an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach to waste management that benefits the environment and your garden. By understanding the types of cardboard suitable for composting, the composting process, and addressing any issues that may arise, you can create nutrient-rich compost for your garden while doing your part to protect the environment. Implementing these techniques will help you reduce landfill waste, support healthy soil structure, and promote biodiversity, ultimately contributing to a greener and more sustainable future.

Frequently Asked Questions about Composting Cardboard

Is it safe to compost cardboard with ink?

Most modern inks are soy-based and safe for composting. However, glossy or heavily printed cardboard should be avoided.

How long does it take for cardboard to decompose?

Decomposition time varies based on factors like moisture, aeration, and temperature, but cardboard typically takes 3-6 months to break down.

Can you compost pizza boxes?

Pizza boxes can be composted if free from excessive grease and food residue, but greasy or contaminated parts should be discarded.

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