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Newspaper composting/ disposal.

 
John C Robinson
Posts: 34
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: South Lake Tahoe & Kyburz, California
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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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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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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: 34
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: 34
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: 34
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
Posts: 68
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?
 
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