Composting Office Paper

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I have read that it is a bad idea to compost paper with certain types of ink (e.g. newspapers that use non-soy inks.)
Does anybody know if office documents from an inkjet printer (black only) should be also be avoided?
Thanks in advance.
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Down Under On The Bucket Farm wrote:

Unless your inkjet is using special metallic inks -- you'd know, they glitter and are even more hellishly expensive than regular inkjet cartridges -- the ink in the cartridges is soy-based.
Chris Owens
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Down Under On The Bucket Farm wrote:

Unless your inkjet is using special metallic inks -- you'd know, they glitter and are even more hellishly expensive than regular inkjet cartridges -- the ink in the cartridges is soy-based.
Chris Owens
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Well that is great to know. How about laser printer rejects? Is that ink also safe?
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Phaedrine Stonebridge wrote:

Laser printers don't use ink. "Toner" is melted, and fused onto paper. That toner can be made of a lot of different things, but usually includes polyester resins, silicon derivatives, waxes and metals such as iron oxide. Color toner may contain other metals and plastics to create the color.
If you have an HP LaserJet printer and you want to know what's in the toner, you can check-out the Material Safety Data Sheets for the various toners here:
http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/environment/productdata/ljmsdseng.html
You may note that the toner used in printers built just a few years ago may differ substantially from toner for newer printers. Generally the newer toners use smaller particles than the older toners, and that means different raw materials. Generally toxic materials are avoided because of the possibility that toner may be inhaled when cleaning the printer.
While I have not read all of the sixty-plus MSDS's for current HP toner, I would be surprised if you found one with elements that would be harmful in a compost pile, and certainly not at the levels you would be putting in to the pile. (A typical printed page only has toner covering about 5% of the surface area, and your pile isn't going to be mostly paper, either.) I wouldn't dump loose toner into the pile, though!
IMHO, the residue from the bleaching process used to make the paper white-white-white is probably more of a concern than the toner fused to the paper.
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Wow that was a lot of information and I really appreciate your time. So you are saying that, independent of the ink, it is just not a good idea to be using either laser or injet rejects in the compost because of the bleach residue?
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Phaedrine Stonebridge wrote:

So
idea
the
Neither concerns *me*. But it seems to me that people who get worried about these kinds of insignificant things are missing something even bigger in their quest to micromanage what goes into their pile. Like I said, the printing on a typical piece of paper is only on about 5% of it's surface area, yet discussion always seems to focus on that, and never gets around to discussing what's in the paper itself.
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wrote:

My community picks up recyclables, including office paper. If yours does too, that might be a better of dealing with the paper.
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snipped-for-privacy@Underworld.com wrote:

Mine does not recycle office paper.
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snipped-for-privacy@Underworld.com wrote:

Check to see what they do with the paper first. Many communities take stuff from the recycling boxes straight to the local landfill.
Chris Owens
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Chris Owens wrote:

That's a myth.
While I won't say there has never been a community that has ever dumped certain materials when the market dipped, many states have laws that put caps on the amount of "recycled" materials that can be sent to the landfill, and that cap is usually barely enough for legitimately spoiled items.
If "recycled" goods could just be dumped into the landfill with no controls, there would be no resistance from the cities when people ask for additional materials to be collected. You don't hear: "Scrap wood? Sure! We'll add it to the list! After all, we'll just turn around and dump it anyway!" What you do hear is: "Scrap wood? Sorry, but there currently is no market, we don't have the storage space to keep it until there is a market, nor do we have the money to pay someone to recycle it into something."
Essentially you can file the myth of recycling goods going straight to the landfill right next to the myth that hospitals declare organ donors dead sooner than others so they can harvest more organs. Just more scare stories spread by people who can't stand it when someone else does something good.
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Its not a myth. I watched our local municpal garbage men just last week pick up the recylce bin and dump it in with the regular trash. If thats what they want to do, I don't really care.
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Persephone@UndX-Mozilla-Status: 0009

Check to see what they do with the paper first. Many communities take stuff from the recycling boxes straight to the local landfill.
Chris Owens
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On Fri, 19 Sep 2003 16:43:42 +0000, Persephone wrote:

My city does not ... but even if they did, I would not be donating my scrap paper to them. I would still compost it, as I do now. My reading on composting tells me to rely on a hot compost pile and a long aging cycle (at least 1 year) to detoxify darn near anything that might get dumped into the pile. Even diesel fuel, PCB's and DDT vanish (IIRC, PCB's need 2 years aging).
What's the worry about trace amounts of bleach that somehow managed to avoid getting neutralized during processing? By the time it goes through a compost pile and gets to the garden, it will no longer be the same chemical anyway. By the time that ink or bleach gets to the garden, environmental pollution in the form of the dust falling from the air will be a FAR larger concern ... and, unless you live in Bhopal, you somehow manage to survive that, right?
So shred, compost, garden, harvest, enjoy. Sweat the small stuff if you want, but leave the 'parts per trillion' worries to people who get paid to worry about it.
Bill
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Be careful about what you read. Composting will never remove heavy metals which are present in the color sections of newspapers and most organic waste from the top of the food chain. They are toxic and are never removed by composting. Composting never removes elemental toxins, it can just convert molecular toxins. Also, don't be mislead about the high temperatures of composting. Even incinerators don't break down all toxic waste into harmless substances. That is why so many people are objecting to having waste incinerators in their neighborhoods.
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--SNIP--
While back, there was a gent who posted calling himself "Jim the Compost Man." Really knew his stuff, I learned a lot from him. Wish he was still around! Anyway, he addressed this issue. I have it saved off and thought I'd re-post it. He addressed colored paper and soy inks as well.
Below, he says there have -not- been heavy metals in the colored sections of newspapers (or North American paper in general) for many years, contradicting what you wrote above. He's not around to ask for a citation, but you are. ;-)
Could you tell me how you know there are currently heavy metals in colored sections of newspapers?
Regards,
Max
Subject: Re: Composting with Newsprint? Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 23:25:47 -0500
Natalie(and others)wrote:

Hi Natalie and Jason,
Ever since lead printing plates were banned in north Americal over twenty years ago, the amount of heavy metals in newsprint, magazines, and colored inserts are at background levels and are not a concern in compost or the garden based on EPA regulations. No organic gardening or farming association anywhere prohibits the use of colored paper in compost.
Years ago, and in other parts of the world where lead printing plates are still used, the lead levels are high and a serious problem, but not in north America. Cadmium is used in yellow inks in concentrations of concern in dyes used for plastics, but not in printing on paper.
Please do not pass on this myth since there is no evidence to back up this assertion that colored paper contains heavy metals at levels to be a problem in the garden. I have seen dozens of heavy metal tests on paper products, including magazines and colored inserts and all of the tests are the same as ordinary compost.
Regarding using soy based inks rather than oil based inks is another common bit of folklore. First, the concentration of hydrocarbons is nearly undetectable in oil based inks and composting is the recommended TREATMENT for many hydrocarbons including oil, gasoline, hydralulic fluid, and diesel in concentrations thousands of times higher than found in paper.
The move toward soy inks is to reduce the use of fossil fuel based ink with a renewable ink, and is a good environmental step. But it has nothing to do with any real biohazard in the paper from the hydrocarbons.
The bottom line is that all north american paper products are safe to use in composting, as a mulch and in the garden and there is absolutely no evidence I am aware of to the contrary.
Jim the Compost Man
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Max wrote:

That was Jim McNelly. Funny, as I was reading this thread I was thinking about him and would have posted but you beat me to it. His sig used to be "nature mulches, man composts". Anyhow, I googled him in the groups and you can find him at www.composter.com.
Scroll to the bottom and click on the Joy of Composting.
Mary
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Max) wrote:

I don't know which papers they are in. I do know that the color inks with heavy metal pigments are still being made and sold. Nontoxic color inks are also being made and sold, but they have serious problems with fading. I don't know the relative quantities at this point in time. Unless you contact the printer of your local newspaper, you can't be sure which ink you are getting. Most use some of each.
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wrote:

Alright Stephen, enough prevaricating.
In this post, http://tinyurl.com/2ek9b , a guy who works in the composting biz professionally, with cities and counties, says you're wrong.
I said, "Stephen, hey this guy seems to know his stuff and he says different, colored paper is OK to compost. How do you know it isn't?" Your reply above seems only to say, "because I know."
One more time, HOW do you know?
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On Wed, 14 Jan 2004 15:05:44 +0000, Stephen M. Henning wrote:

I AM careful about what I read. And that's why I'd like you to define what you mean by "organic waste from the top of the food chain". If you are referencing human waste (as it seems you might be), then I think you are fully mistaken.
Even if there are heavy metals in the ink (a point still open to contention), there is darned little ink on a page and only a TINY fraction of that would be the actual offending metal. Moreover, composting does bind up elemental toxins into safer compounds ... they, after all, are the building block of 'molecular' toxins.
I have a great deal of confidence in the effectiveness of the microbiology of a compost pile. While I would not lace it with strychnine and then dine on it directly, that's because I don't deliberately eat compost directly under any circumstances. I would be completely willing to dose a fresh pile, compost it as per my usual custom and then use it in my garden after a 2 year aging period.
Bill
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