I like adding carbon to the scraps I compost by mixing in some shredded newspaper and Yellow/White Pages books (bot not glossy magazines).

What should I check for to make sure I am not adding chemicals that might have a negative impact on the soil or my health (after eating vegetables grown in that compost)? Those chemicals could be in the paper itself or the ink on the paper.

What specifically should I ask the people who print the newspapers and other publications?

NB: I am aware of this related question, but my question is related to commercially printed material, not office/home-printed paper.

  • 1
    Not an answer but I suggest using cardboard/paper from food packaging, and the brown paper that's increasingly used in place of bubble wrap for packing mail order goods.
    – Chris H
    Dec 23, 2016 at 8:30
  • 2
    There are different kinds of food packaging paper. These papers might be coated with water- and fat-repellent compounds (e.g. polyfluorinated ones). Dec 24, 2016 at 16:53
  • You might want to state the location we're talking about. Depending on country/state/city there might be different laws as to what kind of paper and what kind of ink is allowed to be used.
    – DarkTrick
    Jan 1 at 10:49

1 Answer 1


Paper mills use bonding compounds, dies, and coatings. Pure white paper, for instance, is not just bleached. It has white components to increase the reflectivity. Glossy papers are the worst. They have chemical coatings and there is no law to print the ingredients because we don't eat paper generally. If you are an organic eater, I do NOT recommend placing commercial paper in the compost heap. I recommend recycling it. Food scraps are safe to compost if you read the ingredients when you purchased the food from which the scraps came.

  • what about cardboards
    – a coder
    Mar 24, 2019 at 14:20

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