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Newspaper composting/ disposal.  RSS feed

 
John C Robinson
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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I am a volunteer and the maintenance guy at a Parrot Rescue about 80 miles from my house. We use a lot of newspaper every day in the bird cages. The paper is changed daily. It is covered with bird droppings and food and is thus considered unsuitable for the curbside recycling here. We have a dumpster that is emptied weekly. Newspaper is a considerable about of what is in the dumpster. It's easily the majority. We jump in the dumpster the best we can, to reduce the volume, and we tried soaking the paper. These help somewhat.

We also feed the birds vegetables and fruits every day. Uneaten stuff, rotten stuff, peels, soiled or spoiled bird pellets, all go into a compost pile. It's just a pile. We get some fertilizer out of it for our garden, but mostly it's a disposal method with some side benefits.

I want to start composting the newspaper somehow. There Is far too much to add to our regular compost pile. We would have no green/brown balance, at all. I'm also not sure how to go about shredding all that paper. (Picture 120 large bird cages changed every day.)

My current thought is to take the paper, unshredded, and put it in a separate large bin. We could then compress and soak the newspaper and hopefully let it just rot into the ground. Usable compost isn't really the goal here. If I can save money on the dumpster fees, I can buy compost I need for my gardens. I don't know where our dumpster stuff goes from here. I don't know if it's landfill or incinerator, but either way, reducing that stream has environmental benefits, too.

We are staffed daily by volunteers. We barely have enough help to care for, rehabilitate, and socialize the Parrots. I don't want to add a bunch of work, but if newspaper compost pile only needs to be tended to a couple of times a week, I can assign specific people to do it.

We already separate the glossy stuff. We don't want the birds chewing that up. The glossy stuff goes out to curbside.

I'm picturing a 4x8 open top bin. A couple of 4x4 pieces of plywood could be thrown on top to keep the stuff from blowing out. We can  put the paper in, compress it under the plywood, keep it wet, and hope to rot it into the ground.

Has anyone tried this? I did a quick search on newspaper but didn't find anything.
 
Kyle Neath
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Location: High Sierras, CA 6400'
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What are you doing with the Parrot's manure? Is it all on the newspaper, or are you disposing of it some other way? I'd imagine that there would be plenty of N there to balance out the C of the newspaper. If you piled it up, kept it moist, and poked some holes in it with a garden fork or crumple it up some I'd imagine it would start composting by itself. The key here would be keeping it moist and aerated. Maybe you have some branches or other woody waste that you could layer in between the newspaper to provide air gaps? I would definitely avoid compacting it in any way. That would make it smell bad and turn the whole process anaerobic.

The other option that comes to mind is vermiculture. So long as you let the newspaper/manure combo to age a while, I'd imagine composting worms would be all over that. Worms have the added benefit of eating carbon as well, so the traditional C:N ratios aren't as important (worms will happily tolerate too much carbon to the point of only eating carbon if that is all that's available). Again, keeping it moist and aerated would be the keys to success here.
 
Todd Parr
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Kyle Neath wrote:What are you doing with the Parrot's manure? Is it all on the newspaper, or are you disposing of it some other way? I'd imagine that there would be plenty of N there to balance out the C of the newspaper. If you piled it up, kept it moist, and poked some holes in it with a garden fork or crumple it up some I'd imagine it would start composting by itself. The key here would be keeping it moist and aerated. Maybe you have some branches or other woody waste that you could layer in between the newspaper to provide air gaps? I would definitely avoid compacting it in any way. That would make it smell bad and turn the whole process anaerobic.


Exactly.  If you could find a way to keep it aerated, I think the carbon/nitrogen ration will be fine.  I think trying to keep the wet newspaper from matting up with be the biggest issue.  Is it possible you could use shredded paper to begin with?  If you can somehow figure out the matting issue, I would mix the cage litter and all the fruits and vegetables together.  I would love to be able to get my hands on that much compost material.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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Shredded newspaper won't really work with large animals who flap their wings. Even the sheets of newspaper sometimes end up everywhere.

The droppings are there on the paper, along with some fruits, nuts, veggies, pellets, etc.

I'll try composting some with the disposed vegetable waste. I'm just afraid of running out of space. We fill a couple of 55 gallon plastic bags with crumpled newspaper every day. I suppose I'll do what I can and then get rid of the rest.

Also, if any of you are near Warwick RI, we can give you all the Parrot poop covered newspaper you can use!
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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I'll also look into composting worms. I'll ask our gardener. She's not around much in the winter.

Thanks for the input. I don't know why I didn't think of this a long time ago.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have a small 5 HP chipper/shredder that might work well in shredding your waste newspaper. You can buy them for cheap at Harbor Freight.

 
John C Robinson
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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I looked at an earthworm composting site. They're selling worms like European night crawlers and other things that are invasive here. It's already a massive problem. That ship may have already sailed. The invasive worms are like house sparrows and starlings, they're probably not going anywhere, but I'll have to find out what worms are native.
 
Keith Odell
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Location: Indiana
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I think all composting worms are non-native.  I also believe they have been naturalized  
Adding coffee grounds to your newspaper, parrot droppings and fruit/veggie waste would be a very good base for worms.
I am pro red worm and think they would do very well.

Keith
 
Greg Martin
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Location: Maine, zone 5
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I've never tried this, but I'm wondering if you can use mushrooms to decompose the paper...maybe roll it up wet around some oyster mushroom spawn and stack the rolls into piles that are covered to keep it moist.  Any mushroom growers that can chime in on how best to do this or else why it's not a good idea to grow mushrooms on paper?
 
Phil Gardener
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Location: Near Philadelphia, PA
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Oysters love cardboard and shredded paper, although it is possible that the birds add bacteria that could pose a problem for human consumption of mushrooms grown on that substrate.
 
Tom Rodgers
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Try a double barrel biochar retort. The paper can be rolled or stacked vertically. The resulting carbon will be a good thing, and more permanent than compost.
 
Rebecca Norman
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If volume is an issue (you just have too much) I think worms will work fast to reduce the volume, and mushrooms may work very very slowly. Mixing the newspapers and bird droppings with assorted other compostable things will probably give you the best resulting compost, because in my experience, mixed diverse compost seems to turn out best.
 
Linda Secker
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Hi John

I'd go for the mix it all up together approach as well - and don't compact it! I'd suggest crumpling the paper rather than shredding it (keeps it better aerated), add some more greens, (grass cuttings, coffee grounds, everything from the bottom of the cages) water it with diluted pee as well if you can, then cover to keep moist....

Also though, can you somehow reduce the amount of paper in the birds cages? how many sheets do you use for each? You have a LOT to dispose of

 
John C Robinson
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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Thanks for all the replies. Reducing the amount of paper isn't really a possibility. We are already as conservative as we can be in that regard because supply of paper can be a problem.

I'm starting to add bird newspaper to the compost bin at home. I have 3 birds, so it will be a good experiment to do it here. Of course, the sky still thinks it's winter, so nothing is compostimf much, yet.

I'm going to try adding the newspaper to the compost at the rescue a few days a week. We will try it when I am there and can make sure it get separated properly. We will see how it works and go from there. My plan is to add crumpled newspaper to the regular compost pile, and start another bin of just newspapaer and see how that works.

I think the real answer is going to be to find somebody who needs our poopy paper. Maybe a big composting operation like the landscapers use. Maybe the newspapaer will help mixed with all those grass clippings. I'm going to find one down in the area and talk to them. We might be able to get a landscaper to come by and pick up our waste paper.
 
Ronnie Ugulano
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Location: Zone 9, CA
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I'm starting to add bird newspaper to the compost bin at home.


This is an excellent place to start. Throw some red worms in there with the paper. The other things in the compost will dilute the enormous amount of nitrogen from the birds. Let them grow and multiply. As they do, you'll be able to process more bird newspaper. The worms will continue to multiply. Once they get rolling, you'll have a worm explosion.

Then, get a bin, and layer the bird newspaper with additional paper, shredded or layered wet cardboard, leaves, compost from your home bin, or even dirt. Dirt is heavy, but it's loaded with bacteria that will help to balance out a new bin. Take as many worms out of your home bin as you can get, and put them in your new bin. Don't worry, there will still be worm egg capsules to repopulate your bin.

Don't put too much bird newspaper in the new bin at first. Let the worms get acclimated and start building up their population for real work. After a while, they'll match what you put in, and you'll be set. The bin will be like an endless cup of coffee. You'll put stuff in, and the worms will break it down to (almost) nothing. If your bin is the right size, it will take years to fill it up. When you do, there are many ways to reboot your bin, but one of the most easy ways is to start a new one, layering new bird paper with some of the compost in your last bin. Fill it up with paper and compost, and as many of the worms as you can retrieve from the last bin and you're good to go again. Left over compost from your last bin can be put in a nearby garden or take it home. Most people would prefer using this compost on ornamentals only.

Keeping a vermiculture bin is very easy. Worms have few needs or wants. They don't bark and keep you up at night, and they're hard workers. I'm a slave driver.
 
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