Are Tissues Compostable?

You just caught a cold or flu and suddenly you’re going through a huge number of tissues. You probably feel bad about wasting so much paper, but at the same time, you need to blow your nose somehow. You might start wondering if there’s a responsible way to get rid of all those used tissues. Are tissues compostable? Let’s explore.

Are used tissues compostable?

Depending on your compost provider, used tissues may or may not be compostable. If you have a curbside composting option, you can likely put used tissues in your green bin. The high heat used in commercial composting operations is generally enough to kill most bacteria. Even if your tissue is used, many of these facilities are able to process them successfully. 

Of course, it’s a good idea to check with your compost provider before composting used tissues. Also, if you have a particularly serious illness, it’s probably a good policy not to compost your tissues. The environmental savings of composting probably aren’t worth any potential risk of contamination.

Another thing to note is that like other household items such as clothes hangers, it’s hard to recycle tissues. You shouldn’t place used tissues in your recycling bin. They’re a better fit for the compost bin.

Can you put used tissues in your home compost bin?

That said, you should never put used tissues into your home compost bin. Although home compost bin can break down fibers in tissues, they don’t get hot enough to guarantee that all the bacteria on the tissues will be killed. Just as you shouldn’t put meat in your home compost bin because of bacterial risk, you should avoid putting used tissues in the home bin as well.

Can you compost tissues that have been used to clean up hazardous items?

So far, we’ve assumed that you used your tissues to blow your nose, or perhaps to clean up some household spill. What if you used your tissues to wipe up something potentially hazardous, though?

It might seem strange that you would use a tissue to wipe up a hazardous spill. But some household hazardous items are things you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

For example, if you used your tissues to clean a part in the garage while working on your car, they could have hazardous oil residue or other chemicals on them. Likewise, if you were doing your nails and used a tissue to dab up some acetone nail polish remover, that could also potentially be hazardous.

Tissues that have been used to wipe up these kinds of household chemicals should not be composted. Check with your own municipality. In some cases, you may need to take them to a household hazardous waste disposal facility to get rid of them. In other cases, you may be able to throw them away in your standard trash bin. 

Is tissue paper compostable?

All of the advice here applies to facial tissues. What about that other kind of tissue: tissue paper?

The good news is that most tissue paper is compostable. In many cases, you can compost it in your own home bin or in your city’s green bin. The next time that you get a gift with a ton of tissue paper in it, consider composting it to keep it out of the landfill. 

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