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 Can you compost Paper Towels? Yes!

Posted on Monday, Sep. 19, 2011

Many people often struggle with where to discard their paper towels when reaching the composting and waste bins.  The answer may not seem as obvious as it should be, but used paper towels (or any other paper products that DO NOT have plastic linings, pathogens, or bodily fluids) can be composted along with your food scraps and other compostable utensils. Of course, it is best to recycle all paper products that have not been contaminated, but soiled paper towels are perfect for the compost bin because it can be easily broken down and mixed in with other compostable products (

In fact, to increase awareness and encourage students and all other gym users to compost their paper towels, Santa Clara University has implemented a new pilot composting program in both Malley Center's restrooms and weight room paper towel dispensers. With this program, you can toss all your used paper towels into a compost bin and a separate waste container is provided for all other non-compostable items.
Why make the change? Americans on average send 35 million tons of waste into landfill, and 32% of that 35 million is compostable. ( That's equivalent to 414,814 full sized trash trucks at maximum carrying capacity! By participating in this program, you will lengthen the life spans of all landfill sites and minimize your impact on the earth.

Tags: Composting, Paper, Waste

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The Basics:
  • Recycling: paper, plastic (#1-#7), glass, aluminum, tin. Look for BLUE.
  • Compost: food waste, biodegradable material, (if it was once alive, it can be composted!). Look for GREEN.
  • Landfill waste: everything else! Look for RED or BLACK.
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