Abstract Utilizing stable carbon isotope data to account for aceticlastic and non-aceticlastic pathways of methane generation, a model was created to describe laboratory batch anaerobic decomposition of cellulosic materials (office paper and cardboard). The total organic and inorganic carbon concentrations, methane production volume, and methane and CO 2 partial pressure values were used for the model calibration and validation. According to the fluorescent in situ hybridization observations, three groups of methanogens including strictly hydrogenotrophic methanogens, strictly aceticlastic methanogens ( Methanosaeta sp.) and Methanosarcina sp., consuming both acetate and H 2/H 2CO 3 as well as acetate-oxidizing syntrophs, were considered. It was shown that temporary inhibition of aceticlastic methanogens by non-ionized volatile fatty acids or acidic pH was responsible for two-step methane production from office paper at 35 °C where during the first and second steps methane was generated mostly from H 2/H 2CO 3 and acetate, respectively. Water saturated and unsaturated cases were tested. According to the model, at the intermediate moisture (150%), much lower methane production occurred because of full-time inhibition of aceticlastic methanogens. At the lowest moisture, methane production was very low because most likely hydrolysis was seriously inhibited. Simulations showed that during cardboard and office paper biodegradation at 55 °C, non-aceticlastic syntrophic oxidation by acetate-oxidizing syntrophs and hydrogenotrophic methanogens were the dominant methanogenic pathways.