Help, I Don’t Have Any Shredded Paper!

Help, I Don’t Have Any Shredded Paper!

Don’t panic! Our definition of “shredded paper” does not mean that you need to buy reams of brand new paper. Most people have access to far more usable paper around the house than they realise - if you do however have access to office shredding’s then that’s even better.

Recycling more types of paper at home adds to the circle of reducing the amount of domestic waste produced and diverts it from landfill. It can also assist with the complete destruction of those personal documents and receipts you have shredded. Types of Compostable Shredded Paper Alternatives Here are some alternatives to shredded paper.

Types of Compostable Shredded Paper Alternatives

What You CAN Add


Office paper, print outs, photocopies, old emails, printed documents, old handwritten paperwork and letters

Remove staples and tape


Invoices/delivery notes, white and brown envelopes

Remove windows unless biodegradable

Brown corrugated cardboard delivery boxes

Remove sticky tape, document wallets and staples. Do not pre-soak.

Notebook pages, note paper, drawing paper and diary pages

Remove any glue/wire binding

Telephone directory pages

Remove binding / glue

Old shopping lists, receipts and paper bags

Remove staples

Unwanted non-shiny paper based instruction booklets (flat pack etc)

Remove staples and bindings

Unwanted Medicine instructions


Post-it notes

Remove adhesive part unless biodegradable

Chocolate box separators

Don't let the chocolates go to waste


See advice below

Cardboard roll inners from toilet and kitchen rolls

See advice below


Why Is Shredded Paper Preferred in the HOTBIN?

We recommend shredded paper because it has the highest cellulose content which means it is easy for bacteria to digest and should effectively compost down with the rest of your waste. Not all types of paper are equal in their absorption and decaying properties, consequently we recommend certain paper types over others.

Types of paper


Cardboard and newspaper have a higher lignin content so whilst these materials will still absorb moisture they take longer to break down so you may find some pieces in your final compost which may require sieving.

Why Certain Papers? What’s In Paper?

In its rawest form before becoming paper, pulp contains cellulose and lignin (derived from the latin ‘lignum’ meaning wood). Lignin is a woody material that once provided strength to the walls of a plant.

Paper processes

When the paper making processes remove this woody lignin they leave mostly cellulose fibres. The thermophilic bacteria in the HOTBIN find cellulose much easier (faster) to breakdown than lignin. As a result it is better to add moisture absorbing paper based materials in your HOTBIN that are mostly free of lignin as these will break down easily and will not be visible in your final compost.

Can I compost Glossy Cardboard, Leaflets and Magazines?

Glossy leaflets, magazines, boxes with wax coatings and items with heavy print do not have great moisture absorbing properties so are best left out of the compost pile.

Can I Use Tissue and Kitchen Paper?

How much shredded paperWhilst tissue paper is just very thin bits of “office paper” (high in cellulose), this problem is that it is very thin with little weight, so you would need to use a lot more of it, kitchen and paper towels for example would need to be relatively dry to be added. Unless you have an abundance of it we do not recommend adding tissue paper for this purpose.


Do I Need to Shred Paper and Cardboard?

CorrugatedA lot of households today have a home shredder, usually for personal document destruction however it is not a necessity for the HOTBIN. Instead you can tear things up ideally to less than 4 cm in as many odd shapes as you like – this speeds up breakdown.

Any type of shredding's can be added, whether in strips or crosscut. Most good quality shredders will also be able to shred single wall cardboard boxes (pictured) but check your machines capabilities before trying to shred heavy duty cardboard boxes, if not you can cut or tear them up.


  • If you are really struggling: Always start with those high cellulose materials and add other papers such as leaflets and newspaper but be aware that you might find it in your final compost. If adding newspaper, roughly tear sheets into smaller pieces – find a good mixture of materials if you are really struggling.
  • Consider adding shredded paper into your food caddy indoors whilst you fill it, this way when you add it all into the HOTBIN you just need to give it a quick stir. We recommend 2-3 handfuls of shredded paper for each 5l food caddy but with wetter waste you may need to experiment with quantities.

Our Mantra: Remember, it’s easier to fix a dry bin than a wet one!
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