How to shred cardboard for compost, composting tips

5 tips on how to shred cardboard for compost Composting FAQ
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Cardboard boxes clutter up every house, especially in the food delivery era. Shredded cardboard can be used for composting process, being a good alternative to carbon-rich brown materials.

Cardboard compost is simple especially when it is a lack of wood material with food waste in your compost pile. Make sure the cardboard isn’t covered by plastic, decorations, or paint and the staple is removed. Tiny pieces suit better for composting cardboard, so we recommend you use a cardboard shredder for cutting material.

In this article, we give you some tips to compost shredded cardboard boxes to benefit from them, avoiding annoyances such as pests and smells and how to shred cardboard for compost

Shredding cardboard for compost

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Once you may find there is a lot of green material to compost such as food waste and very little brown materials such as dry leaves or other garden waste for proper composting in your pile, add cardboard. Living in urban or rural areas, cardboard will probably be the best brown carbon-rich organic material. 

Cardboard makes compost structure breathable thanks to air pockets mixed with nitrogen-rich green material. Oxygen is a key ingredient since microorganisms in composting are oxygen-loving creatures and for better functioning, they require both green and brown organic materials. 

Shredded cardboard serves better for composting than cardboard pieces, as big parts may stick together to create a smelly mess instead of nutrients in a compost pile. So, cardboard shredding creates a sufficient structure in the composting pile for better air circulation.

What is compost and what materials are used?

Composting is a process where you do not throw your household organic materials away, but recycle them at home, producing ecological nutritional fertilizer.

You may use a compost bin or a composting pile to get the benefits of your compost material. 

The decomposition process helps you to decrease your kitchen waste and shorten greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane and carbon dioxide, reducing the usage of chemical fertilizers to improve the ecological situation on the planet. You can also save money on the garbage disposal, decrease public landfills and contribute to global warming prevention.

The common method of composting means keeping your organic matter in compost bins, adding the proper ratio of ecologically useful materials, and turning the compost pile regularly.

Composting mass should consist of bothgreen and brown materials. 

Examples of brown matter are dry leaves, wood chips, sawdust, newspapers, dry leaves, pine needles, eggshells, or other matter made of wood. They work as carbon in a compost pile, providing aerobic action (coming with air).

Otherwise, green materials provide nitrogen into compost. They are animal manure, food scraps, paper towels, fresh leaves, and grass clippings. Too many nitrogen-rich bacteria provide anaerobic action (coming without air).

Composting cardboard, keep in mind you have enough nitrogen-rich material to keep a balanced moisture level and enough air circulation. 

Adding cardboard with other high-carbon compost mix helps to absorb the excess moisture for proper decomposition and avoids annoyances such as unpleasant smells and pests.

Can you compost cardboard boxes?

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Cardboard packaging needs recycling, but it will take at least six months for their breakdown. Composting cardboard boxes at home decreases the time.

There is a good hint to accelerate the process, when you’ve got a large cardboard box, you can easily store your compost there instead of in a compost bin. Cardboard can perfectly serve as the first layer in sheet mulching due to its ability to absorb water. 

Continue adding alternate layers of kitchen waste until your cardboard box is reached. After the box is fulfilled, add the upper layer, then close the box or add another layer and continue forming the compost. 

To create your composting cardboard bin, ensure the packaging does not contain any artificial ingredients or synthetic substances such as colored cardboard, staples, or any plastic tape. These should be removed from your compost pile.

Types of cardboard waste for compost

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Cardboard is a daily used ecological material, so you should realize whether it is compostable or not. Some cardboard waste is easily added to existing compost heaps with brown material, while others need more attention to break down.

Corrugated cardboard

It is the most used type of packaging and breaks up most quickly among different cardboard types. It has a ribbed construction as mostly used for packaging as a filler to avoid breaking items or as a separate layer in a cardboard box. 

The cardboard packaging for eggs is a good sample of corrugated cardboard.

To compost corrugated cardboard boxes, you need to separate pieces into several sections and then shred them. To simplify the process, you may use scissors to cut along the corrugated lines. 

Cutting or ripping wet cardboard in advance can also be a big help.

Flat cardboard

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Regular flat cardboard is also suitable for quick composting. It doesn’t require additional preparation to get into the compost bin.

If there isn’t a mixture between the paper and cardboard it will have to be broken into strips, or it may be put in the soil and the compost pile and start deteriorating.

Wax-coated cardboard

Wax-coated cardboard boxes are also compostable organic material, but it takes more time to compost than other materials. 

To accelerate the process, you may remove wax in advance by submerging it in water but this doesn’t work if there are several layers of wax coating. Sometimes it is better to let such cardboard be recycled than composted.

Wax cardboard is generally used primarily for a single purpose – the use is to transport food.

What cardboard should not be composted?

There are several types of cardboard that should not be composted.

Wax-coated cardboard is not advisable, but compostable. Large cardboard pieces should not be composted as they won’t bring benefit to compost as they absorb too much moisture and may stick to the layers, decreasing the decomposition process.

Coated or colored cardboard is not recommended for your compost, as dye and paints containing synthetic chemicals won’t create eco-friendly fertilizer for the soil.

Plastic-coated cardboard does not disintegrate into the soil, which is worse for your compost bin. 

Frozen food boxes, milk cartons, and paper cups usually have plastic coating preventing them from leaking. Plastic is not compostable material.

Cereal boxes have a thin plastic coating on them and are often avoided from compost bins, but using the composting soak/shred technique, you can separate plastic sheets from cardboard as the material will easily peel away. And soaked cardboard without any plastic elements can directly go to your compost bin.

Why shred cardboard for composting?


Shredding cardboard for compost should not be ignored, as large layers create a smelly mess more often than compost. They are more difficult to manual turning, slow the layers decompose without proper air pockets, and bring such troubles as attracting pests and ruining the pile.

If you use a worm bin for composting, shredding is a must because worms are wood-loving creatures, for better processes add cardboard of small pieces in your worm bin.

Most cardboard requires much time and force to become tiny pieces but there are some techniques and devices such as a paper shredder and a box cutter to simplify the process.

So, here we give some recommendations to shred cardboard for composting.

How to shred cardboard for compost

Before you put your cardboard boxes into a compost heap, make sure there are no plastic, metal, or colored decorations on them. 

The classic shredding method

This method is the most common to shred cardboard and receive small enough pieces. It requires time and space. 

When you have removed all the additional elements, put your cardboard into a flat work area that has a durable surface. It may be an old door or several wooden boards. Slice the card using a box cutter or a pair of long and sharp scissors, sometimes even a sharp knife may help you to shred the cardboard. 

Prepare 8-inch pieces for the next stage.

Here you may continue using your home tools to make small pieces of about 1 inch, but it will take you extremely much time. 

I prefer to feed the cardboard through paper shredders.

The electric shredding method

Obviously, it is the best and the fastest way to cut all cardboard into small pieces. Stripes 8 inches wide I put them in the shredder’s mouth to receive the brown material for my compost pile. 

A Garden shredder is also suitable for cutting cardboard, especially if you are outside and collect other organic waste in your backyard. 

A garden shredder as well as a wood chipper and a chipper shredder are suitable not only for leaves, branches, twigs, and small boards they can easily chew your cardboard for compost.

The wet card technique

Also called a wetting method. It means you soak the material prepared for composting and can easily tear wet cardboard even without any tools. Or you may just leave the cardboard boxes outside in rainy weather to receive, in a few days or weeks, a ready composting material.

Or soaked cardboard can also be left on the ground for decomposing.

The lasagna method of composting (without shredded cardboard)

Lasagna gardening suggests an alternative way to compost without shredding cardboard. It is called the lasagna method and means leaving cardboard sheets down to compost with the soil and other vegetation.

Put the cardboard boxes in a thin layer on the ground, add dry carbon-rich waste, and put again cardboard on top if needed. 

It’s possible to make several layers into your compost every day without having to go through the compost.

The only downside of this method is that it takes longer to get fully decomposed material.

Does cardboard need to be shredded for compost?


It should be torn, cut, or shred into small pieces. Large cardboard elements will take longer and may cause annoyances such as unpleasant smells or attracting pests.

Flat cardboard can be composted easily and breaks fairly quickly. If the cardboard doesn’t contain another product, it will have to be split down into strips, and it can either be put into your garbage bin or disposed of as soon as possible.

Is there a shredder for cardboard?

You may use paper shredders or chipper shredders to shred cardboard and remove its waste.

The HSM ProPACK C400 is used for shredding cardboard. It is a very useful and time-saving device. Afterward, perforated cardboard is then wrapped by flexible netting, which can be used for environmentally and reusable packing. For composting, you do not need any net packaging.

How small should I cut cardboard for composting?

Shredded paper should not be of pretty small pieces to compost. But when you use a classic shredding cardboard method, the cardboard is cut into 8-inch length pieces and then trimmed down 0.5 in with the box cutter. It is advantageous to cut out light and air-conditioned pieces that are compostable.

How do you make cardboard shredded?

I flatten the cardboard on an extensive surface and then cut the pieces together using a box cutter or a paper shredder. 

I prefer using an electric shredder as it saves much time, moreover, the cardboard will take less to decompose. Shredded cardboard has more surface area than a solid piece of cardboard. Then I add kitchen waste that is usually in abundance, cover it with more cardboard layers, close my compost bin, and do not forget to turn regularly to increase decomposing.

Previously, I used a worm bin, as worms love wooden material, but for me, it was not the most convenient way.

If you have no special device, you can manually handle cardboard into smaller pieces to add to your compost. This is whether you shred, cut or tear, the results will still be the same so far you do it manually with hands.

Can you shred cardboard in a wood chipper?

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 The easiest and most suitable way to shred cardboard boxes is to use a chipper shredder. It can cut any type of cardboard and perfectly work with other brown waste such as dry leaves, branches, and pine needles.

Chipper shredders are used for shredding cardboard with industrial strength. A chipper shredder saves time grinding down all garden waste and can also serve as a paper shredder.


Composting is a simple process if you know how it works, what materials serve better, and what mistakes should be avoided. Cardboard boxes can be successfully recycled or composted at home, but only shredded into small pieces and with enough nitrogen-rich green matter. At the same time, cardboard is very helpful when you lack brown organic materials. Wonder how to turn compost, read the article.

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