The Facts on Whether Paper Is Biodegradable or Nonbiodegradable

The Facts on Whether Paper Is Biodegradable or Nonbiodegradable

Businesses are getting more and more conscious about the environment and their effects on global warming. In order not to lose existing or future customers, lots of businesses are looking towards biodegradable products to create a more eco-friendly image. One fact that must be looked into is whether the paper is biodegradable or nonbiodegradable.

Many people believe that paper is one of the most eco-friendly materials. However, people prefer reusable materials because of their concern about climate change. Statistics show that over 90% of metals are recycled, and it costs the environment less.

However, this hasn’t reduced environmental issues, as many still prefer using plastic. To answer whether paper is biodegradable or nonbiodegradable, you first need to understand what those terms mean.

Definition of Biodegradable

The term biodegradable refers to compounds that decompose into organic manure with the help of natural agents, such as air, water, sunlight, soil, natural organisms, and so on. They are non-toxic materials to the environment and primarily comprise returnable natural ingredients to the earth.

Definition of Non-biodegradable

Non-biodegradable substances are materials that linger in the environment for a long time without being decomposed by natural agents, causing environmental harm. They’re deemed hazardous substances, polluting, and can cause environmental damage. However, they’re more commonly used since they’re easily available, easy to use, and cheap.

Facts on Whether Paper Is Biodegradable or Non-biodegradable

Paper is made out of wood. Wood is a plant and plant materials are biodegradable. Hence, it can be safely deduced that paper is biodegradable. Paper can be recycled up to 6 – 7 times before the fibers break down enough in order to be recycled again!

The paper goes through natural biodegradation, and it takes between 2 – 6 weeks before it begins to degrade. To help put this into perspective, biodegradable plastics can take years before this process even begins.

Biodegradation is possible in paper since it’s made from 100% natural materials. However, you can speed up the process by controlling the conditions within your compost bin.

Paper Is Biodegradable

Conditions to Help Speed Up the Biodegradation Process:

  • Rainfall
  • Heat
  • Oxygen
  • Humidity

It’s key to know that papers will degrade as expected without these conditions. You can regulate the conditions needed for biodegradable materials by using a composting system. Any biodegradable material can disintegrate quickly as a result of this.

The great thing about paper is that you can decompose it completely in a compost pile at home. On the other hand, plastics tend to poison the earth and everything in its vicinity. So, even if it promises to be biodegradable, never put it in your compost pile at home.

Worms love eating biodegradable garbage and turning it into new soil. Add worms and food wastes to your paper waste in order to get quicker results. It’s almost as though it’s a composting facility!

Is Paper Eco-Friendly?

Deforestation is one of the reasons why using biodegradable papers can be worse than using biodegradable plastics. Statistics show that every year, 35 percent of the 32 million acres of forest that are cut down or burned are used to make paper products.

This implies that approximately 11 million acres are destroyed for the benefit of human beings.

Fortunately, there’s a way to make biodegradable papers more environmentally friendly. First, there must be a deliberate act to recycle any paper product we use. This will lessen the need to cut down additional trees unnecessarily.

Second, we need to ensure that those papers we use are sourced in a continual manner by asking the right questions, such as:

  • Is the paper made from recycled materials?
  • Is it made from completely biodegradable materials?

Another thing to look out for from big corporations is that they begin to participate in tree planting to ensure minimized deforestation.

Is Using Paper Bad for the Environment?

The popular belief that paper is healthy for the environment is incorrect, as discussed earlier.
Many packaging business sectors, notably paper processing plants, create paper using some pretty harsh chemicals.

In reality, paper mills are one of the most significant pollutants of water in the world. This is based on the fact that they discharge their chemical solution into natural resources. Some of these chemicals include methanol, toluene, and formaldehyde.

This use of chemicals is another reason why paper products aren’t always the greatest packaging solution. However, most papers are completely biodegradable, so that means that they can be composted. To help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, opt for composting at home.

Types of Biodegradable Papers

Most paper is biodegradable and can be used in a completely environmentally-friendly manner. The issue is the difference in the period of time and conditions required for paper waste to go through degradation successfully.

Below is the breakdown of different papers that are biodegradable and the average duration they take:

  • Printing Paper: 2 months
  • Paper Bags: 1 – 2 months
  • Cardboard Boxes: Up to 3 months
  • Newspaper: Up to 6 months
  • Photography Paper: Up to 3 months
  • Toilet Paper: Up to 36 months
  • Magazines: Up to 12 months

Note that milk cartons were left out because they take a longer time to decompose (up to 3 years). The significant length of its decomposition is due to the fact that they have plastic packaging inside them.


Hopefully this article has helped you understand how to determine whether paper is biodegradable or nonbiodegradable! Don’t forget that the biodegradation of paper is possible as long as they don’t line it with plastics.

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