Feasibility of composting wood and cardboard waste with green garden waste

ADAS, in collaboration with TRADA Technology, completed a project to determine the feasibility of composting wood and/or cardboard waste with Civic Amenity green waste or kerbside-collected green waste and kitchen waste.

Using composting trials, the work established how to optimise the co composting of these materials, identified the effects of including wood and/or cardboard into the feedstock, and assessed how the quality of compost is affected.

Key aims:

  • Determine the feasibility of composting wood and/or cardboard waste with green garden or household kitchen waste.
  • Establish how to optimise the co-composting of these materials, identify the effects of including wood and/or cardboard in the composting mix and to assess how the quality of the compost is affected.
  • Optimise the composting process so that it can be demonstrated to be a useful route for managing wastes that are either contaminated (such as with food in the case of cardboard or resins in the case of MDF) or technically difficult to recycle by existing methods.


The primary recycling method for wood waste is in the manufacture of new particle board products. Although the panelboard industry recycles some of its own waste, material such as chipboard, medium density fibreboard (MDF) and orientated strand board (OSB) cannot normally be recycled by this route. There is evidence that composting is a suitable waste management process for these materials, with windrow composting operations including panelboard and other wood wastes within the composting mix. 

A recent WRAP study identified composting as a viable option for managing panelboard waste, although acknowledged that the process would need to be modified to suit the incoming feedstock. It is suggested that co-composting with green garden waste or household kitchen waste may speed up the process and may be beneficial to the overall compost quality.

WOO004 started with a literature review of published information and current practice on the composting of wood and cardboard waste. The project also contacted a sample of existing UK compost operators to obtain information on existing practices and viewpoints on the inclusion of wood and/or cardboard as a feedstock.

The information gathered in these exercises was used to define the composting trials. The assessment stages included consideration of the quality of compost produced from the trials, as well as the practicalities and economic viability of such composting.

The final stages of this project  included preparation and production of a guidance document on the feasibility of composting wood and/or cardboard with municipal waste.