Are Toilet Paper Rolls Biodegradable? (An In-Depth Answer)

Are Toilet Paper Rolls Biodegradable

Toilet paper rolls are made out of organic material, but they can stick around for years after being produced. It leaves people questioning, are toilet paper rolls biodegradable, and what needs to happen in order for the process of decomposition to start?

Toilet paper rolls are biodegradable, but they can last years without decomposing naturally. The material must be placed in the right conditions. If the cardboard is exposed to air and plenty of moisture it can take as little as 3 months to decompose. 

There are negative factors that contribute to the time it takes for toilet paper rolls to decompose which can cause issues in our landfills. However, there are good uses for toilet paper rolls. In this article, we will share the best uses of your toilet paper rolls to keep them out of landfills. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

You can either compost or recycle toilet paper rolls. Cut or shred all toilet paper rolls to compost and wet the material, or recycle them with other paper and cardboard material.

Here are some products to make the process easier from Amazon:

1. Cloud Paper Bamboo Toilet Paper – Bamboo is more abundant and grows more quickly than other trees. There are many options today for eco-friendly toilet paper. Bamboo paper breaks down naturally and much faster than paper made with other woods. 

2. VIVOSUN Rotating Batch Compost Bin – This bin circulates the brown and green material to allow more oxygen in which helps with decomposition. It also has two sides to it. You put organic material on one side and the other side is the nutrition-rich compost.

3. ECOWAN LIVING Recycle Bin – This recycling bin organizer is useful for when you’re ready to take recycling to a center, or to grab your paper (which includes your toilet paper rolls) to take to the compost.

Toilet Paper Roll Materials

Toilet paper rolls are disposable after their initial use. However, they are made of fairly useful cardboard and don’t need to be thrown away right after the last sheet of toilet paper is removed. 

What are Toilet Paper Rolls Made of? 

Toilet paper rolls are made out of cardboard and can be recycled as cardboard. Cardboard is also known as paper board. It is made from wood pulp which sometimes comes from leftover wood chips. 

Some toilet paper rolls are white, gray, and brown depending on the dyes and additives that are available. Most cardboard is recyclable, but some are coated with wax, or plastic which makes recycling more complicated. However, toilet paper rolls are often uncoated

Are All Toilet Paper Rolls Biodegradable?

Toilet paper rolls and other cardboard products are technically biodegradable. However, if the cardboard is not properly disposed of then it can stay around for 40 years or more. This causes an issue in landfills.

You can compost toilet paper rolls with brown compost, which will break down the cardboard material much faster than throwing them in the trash. It’s best to shred the rolls and wet them. The wetter the better for decomposition to take place.

Do Cardboard Toilet Paper Rolls Decompose?

Cardboard toilet paper rolls do decompose, however it can take years if the cardboard is not buried or wet. The best way to help cardboard decompose at a rapid rate is to compost it. It can also be helpful in the garden as brown composting material.

However, some cardboard is covered in plastic or wax which gets in the way of decomposition and the recycling process. You can opt for cardboard only made with biodegradable materials.

Most toilet paper rolls are not coated in any non-biodegradable coating.  

How Long Does it Take Toilet Paper Rolls to Decompose?

If the toilet paper rolls are exposed to the elements – in or on the ground and are wet, decomposition can take only 3 months. However, when the paper rolls are stored out of the elements or closed in a mound of other paper products – it can take years to degrade. 

Toilet paper rolls are helpful in the garden. You can compost them as brown material. This practice will keep the build-up of toilet paper rolls at the landfills and it will aid in your, or a friend’s garden.

You might also enjoy our post on How Long Should a Roll of Toilet Paper Last

What to do With Old Toilet Paper Rolls

There are a few ways to dispose of toilet paper rolls without throwing them in the trash and adding to the landfills. Let’s discuss!

What Do I Do With Old Toilet Paper Rolls?

You can use your old toilet paper rolls with your brown composting material. Or you can give them to a friend who composts. You can also recycle them with other cardboard and materials. Most recycling sites will have a large section or recycling bin for cardboard.  

Other ideas include using the paper rolls for crafts, art projects, or STEAM activities. They can be used for children’s activities as well as decorative crafts for adults. Toilet paper rolls are used in a multitude of DIY crafts and projects. 

How Do You Dispose of Toilet Rolls?

You should either recycle or compost your old toilet paper rolls. If you choose to throw your toilet paper rolls in the garbage, they will likely sit in a landfill for many years contributing to negative environmental impacts. 

To compost them, put them in with other brown material, like dead leaves, sticks, newspapers, etc. To recycle them, take them to a recycling plant, or to someone who uses toilet paper rolls.

You can also use them as fun crafts before you add them back into the world. 

How Do You Recycle Toilet Paper Rolls? 

You can recycle toilet paper rolls with other cardboard material. Most recycling areas have a section, or dumpster, just for cardboard. You can recycle most cardboard material, but you can’t recycle the ones coated with wax, or plastic as easily. 

If you or a friend have a garden you can add the toilet paper roll to brown composting material and help out the garden. Recycling and composting are much better than throwing away all those toilet paper rolls. 

How Do You Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls?

You can reuse toilet paper rolls in various crafts and DIY decorating and organizing items. You can use them to plant seedlings and help them in their early stages of growth. You can also cut them up and use them in the compost for gardening. 

If you don’t have a garden and aren’t that crafty, you can also bring them to a recycling center nearest to you. They are recycled along with cardboard and paper.

Additionally, they also make good fire starters. If you’re going camping you can fill a roll with dryer lint and it will catch fire quickly. 

What Can I Do with Empty Toilet Paper Rolls?

You can recycle toilet paper rolls with other cardboard materials at your local recycling center. A great use is in your brown compost material. This way it helps your garden and isn’t taking up space in a landfill. 

You can also use the cardboard for crafts, DIY projects, educational activities, and plant holders for seedlings. They are sturdy enough for a multitude of uses after their initial purpose. You can even buy paper rolls by themselves for craft use. 

Recycling Toilet Paper Rolls

Recycling can be confusing and frustrating, but there are a few ideas and easy ways to save paper rolls from collecting in landfills. Let’s jump right in!

Can Paper Towels and Toilet Paper Rolls be Recycled?

Both paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls can be recycled. They are recycled with most paper and cardboard products. However, there are a few exceptions for some cardboard and paper products – if they have plastic or wax coating then they are not recyclable.

Alternatively, you can upcycle your toilet paper and paper towel rolls in crafts and DIY projects, or use them for organizing small items. Also, you can use them in the garden as seedling planters and as brown composting material. 

You might also enjoy our post on If Toilet Paper Rolls are Recyclable

Are Toilet Paper Rolls Recyclable?

Toilet paper rolls are recyclable. They are often recycled with other cardboard materials. Any cardboard material can be recycled as long as it’s not coated or attached to wax, plastic, or another non-paper product. 

Nearly all recycling centers recycle cardboard. There’s a good chance you live near one, but if you don’t you can use toilet paper rolls in crafts, as fire starting material, and in the garden.

If you don’t have a need for them, you can donate them to schools, libraries, and community centers. 

Can Cardboard Toilet Paper Rolls be Recycled?

Most toilet paper rolls are made of cardboard and they can be recycled as cardboard. Most recycling centers take cardboard as long as it is not coated in plastic or wax. You can also upcycle them for crafts. 

People use toilet paper rolls to store things for camping, for gift wrapping, as fire starters, and in the garden as seedling planters and in their compost.

Cardboard is very useful because it is sturdy, while also easily cut or folded. 

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Recycle Shower Curtains

Is Toilet Roll Recycled?

A toilet paper roll should be recycled along with other cardboard products. Your community’s recycling program will pick up the cardboard products or you could drop them off at a recycling center.

Alternatively, you can save your toilet paper rolls and give them to organizations that can use them such as schools, libraries, community centers, and gardening professionals. Gardeners often use toilet paper rolls in their compost and to start seedlings. 

Is it Better to Recycle or Compost Toilet Paper Rolls? 

If you can compost your toilet paper rolls, that is the best way to go. This is because not all materials that are given to a recycling center actually go through the recycling process. Thus, there is a chance the toilet paper rolls will end up in the landfill anyway. 

Recycling centers can’t take cardboard that has soaked up grease or oil. You also shouldn’t compost grease. Toilet paper rolls on their own are good fire starts as well, but it’s best not to burn them inside, especially if they are coated with something. 

Composting Toilet Paper Rolls

Composting is beneficial to the earth and it provides free and nutritious soil for gardens. You can compost toilet paper rolls either in your own garden or in a community garden near you. Let’s discuss this further. 

Are Toilet Paper Rolls Compostable?

Toilet paper rolls are compostable. Most of the time, toilet paper rolls are made of cardboard and they are not coated in anything non-biodegradable, like plastic or wax. Some other products come in cardboard packaging which cannot be composted. 

If you don’t have a garden, you can donate the paper rolls to schools, or community gardens. You can also recycle them. Some communities have a recycle pick-up service and you can put the toilet paper rolls in the recycling bin. 

How Long Does it Take for a Toilet Paper Roll to Decompose?

It takes three months for a toilet paper roll to decompose if it is composted and taking in moisture, but it takes longer if it is placed in a landfill with a mound of paper products. It also will not decompose if it is dry and out of the natural elements. 

This is why you can use toilet paper rolls for crafts and DIY projects and keep them for many years. Keep in mind that if you coat them in a non-organic material, like wax, plastic, or paint, they will not decompose as easily when you are finished. 

Can You Bury Toilet Paper Rolls? 

You can bury toilet paper rolls because they are made of organic material. It’s best to shred the roll first and wet the material and the ground you bury it in. It’s also good for air to get to the paper to break it down faster. 

If you add shredded paper rolls to a compost pile with the brown material and mix the compost, air will get to the material and it will decompose faster.

If you mix green material in with the brown, the moisture of the green material will help break down the brown.

Can Toilet Rolls Go in Compost?

Toilet paper rolls break down very well in the compost as part of the brown material. If you shred the paper rolls and wet them, they will decompose much faster. They add a lot of good nutrients to any soil. 

Other brown material that can go in the compost includes dead leaves, bark, wood chips, other cardboard material, pine needles, and hay or straw.

Green materials can be food scraps from green vegetables, non-citrus fruit, grass clippings, and coffee and tea grounds. 

Can Empty Toilet Paper Rolls Be Composted?

After the toilet paper is used up, you can compost your empty toilet paper rolls. The best way to compost them is to shred them and wet them. They are perfect for brown material. It’s advised to mix 1 part brown material with 1 part green material. 

Toilet paper rolls and other cardboard products help add plenty to the brown material. Brown material is also made of wood scraps, hay, and pine straw.

Green material is mostly made of fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds.

What is the Toilet Paper Roll Gardening Trick?

Gardeners like to use a toilet paper roll to plant their seedlings in. This keeps the seedlings safe from slugs and other pests. As the plant matures, the paper roll will decompose and add nutrients to the soil. 

Gardeners also use paper rolls in their brown compost material along with other paper waste, dried grass, dead leaves, sticks, and pine straw. Composting works best if you have one part brown material to one part green material. 

Related Questions

Is Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Toilet paper is made to break down and dissolve in water. 1 and 2-ply toilet paper break down much faster than 3-ply and 3-ply quilted paper. When too much toilet paper is flushed and doesn’t break down quickly it can cause a clog. 

Eventually, water in the pipes will break down a toilet paper clog, but to prevent smells, you can pour hot water down the toilet to aid in flushing out the clog faster. You can also use vinegar and baking soda to dissolve the clog. 

What Kind of Toilet Paper is Biodegradable?

All toilet paper is biodegradable, but some toilet paper breaks down faster than other toilet paper. 1 and 2-ply break down faster than 3-ply. Toilet paper breaks down faster with the less you flush at a time. 

If you flush too much paper down the drain, it is likely to collect into a clog. The clog will take much longer to degrade. You can buy bamboo toilet paper which breaks down faster and is less likely to clog the drain or toilet. 

How Do You Recycle Paper Towel Rolls?

You can recycle paper towel rolls with toilet paper rolls in the cardboard section of recycling centers. Some communities pick up recycling for residents’ houses. Also, recycling can go into a blue bin for recycling. 

You can also upcycle paper towel rolls in crafts and DIY projects. Paper towel rolls last for a long time and are very sturdy for certain projects.

As long as paper products are not wet and mixed in the ground with other organic material, it will last for years.

Can You Use Cereal Boxes in Compost?

Cereal boxes can be composted just like any other cardboard or paper material. It’s best to shred them, or tear them into small pieces and wet them when you add them with the brown material pile. 

Other brown material can include wood chips, hay, and pinestraw. It’s best to mix 1 part brown material with 1 part green material. Green material can include grass clippings, coffee grounds, used tea leaves, and vegetable scraps. 

Final Thoughts

I hope this article encourages you to reduce, reuse, or recycle your toilet paper rolls and I hope you found some inspiring uses for them, or maybe you are inspired to start composting and maybe even start gardening. 

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