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How to Compost Brown Paper Bags

Substituting the use of plastic bags with brown paper bags seems like an excellent idea for many reasons. But are brown paper bags compostable? Are they the best alternative in eliminating plastic pollution?

They are increasingly being considered as the better alternative to plastic bags because they are manufactured from sustainable materials and can be disposed of easily and safely.

However, as you may already know, not all paper bags the same. Even though they are all made of paper, some other things are added during manufacturing to create different textures and designs. And though they can be recycled easily, this question remains; are brown paper bags compostable?

Almost all brown paper bags can be composted or recycled. They can be shredded, turned into pulp, and used to make new bags. But is it possible to collect all brown paper bags and return them to a manufacturing company to be reprocessed into new ones?

The answer is no! Hence the need for another disposal method like composting.

This is because they are made from natural materials that are easily compostable? The assumption here is that all brown paper bags are made from unadulterated natural materials like plain paper and cardboard.

And because composting is only done using natural ingredients, if you mix waste brown paper and other ingredients like kitchen waste and grass clippings, you get the perfect compost for your garden and flowers.

What are paper bags?

Brown paper bags are a type of packaging made from paper. They are commonly used as shopping bags and for storing consumer goods.

The most common type of paper bag you will see are brown paper bags, which are typically available at grocery stores. Most paper bags are made from kraft paper or recycled paper.

Which types of paper bags should not be composted?

Although basic brown paper bags are safe to compost, there are a few exceptions. What makes some paper bags non-compostable are the ingredients or treatments added to them.

Here are the types of paper bags that are not compostable:

  1. Bags coated with metal, plastic, or any other ingredients that are not plain paper
  2. Bags covered with film, wax, or dye
  3. Bags that are contaminated with non-compostable waste, like animal products

How to compost paper bags

Composting paper bags is pretty easy to do. There are a few things for you to keep in mind before adding them to your compost pile.

Here are the steps to take composting paper bags:

  1. Shred the paper. Before tossing a paper bag in a compost pile, you should shred the paper first. This will help it break down more quickly which is a win for the composting process. Shredded paper can also be mixed with the rest of the compost more easily.
  2. Clean off non-compostable waste. If your paper bag was used to store meat or dairy products, you should wipe it down before composting. This will prevent complications with the compost, such as unwanted pests or odors.
  3. Maintain the carbon to nitrogen balance. Paper bags add carbon to your compost, so it's important to mix it with plenty of nitrogen-rich materials. These include items like vegetable trimmings, green leaves, coffee grounds, houseplants, and weeds.
  4. Mix the paper into the compost. Combine the paper with the other ingredients to ensure a well-balanced compost pile.

Hello Bag helps with composting. A sturdy frame that keeps your paper grocery bag open so you can fill it to the top. When filled simply slide the frame out of your paper grocery bag and discard the bag into your composting pile.