Paper use in the biobin?
The Biowaste Regulations specify that only a partial fraction of waste paper collected separately in households in quantities of max. 0.5 % may be used with separately collected biowaste, "if this is useful for hygienic or practical reasons (e.g. in case of very moist biowaste)".
Use of paper packaging, high-gloss paper and waste wallpaper is explicitly not allowed. However, other paper products can also be problematic in biowaste under environmental aspects. The history of the development of paper in Europe over 800 years has led to the current production of around 3,000 paper variants in Europe. Their main constituent is almost always cellulose (pulp) made from wood fibres. However, the impressive variety of paper products is only achieved by adding all kinds of different fillers, additives and finishing agents, which often account for a two-digit percentage of the mass of paper products. The material diversity increases again when the paper products are further processed (printed, glued, coated, etc.) and are used for the respective intended application.
Here it must be noted that very few paper products contain specifically selected recipe constituents, which are verifiably completely biodegradable and are not environmentally harmful. This applies, e.g. to paper used for the production of biowaste collection bags certified according to the requirements of EN 13432 or comparable standards. However, biowaste collection bags made of paper without corresponding certificates are also offered, for which insufficient information is available on their biodegradability and their material composition.
Under environmental aspects, placing newspaper and sanitary papers in the biobin must also be assessed as being critical. Today‘s daily newspapers, often with colour printing, can contain diverse paper additives, mineral oils, pigments and printing agents. Therefore, in several countries health risk warnings are now issued, if newspapers – as often practised – are used as food packaging. Although newspaper degrades rapidly during composting, it is unclear whether all the environmentally hazardous constituents are destroyed with sufficient speed. Many sanitary papers have special wet strength finishes, which improve their resistance when used as a hygiene product. To what extent these and other constituents are degraded biologically during biological waste treatment and/or in the soil is often unclear. Therefore, restraint is necessary when using paper in the biobin. Only paper products specifically developed for this use should be allowed to get into bio-waste. Then, even with longer-term use, contamination can be safely excluded from the composts produced from this waste.