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Recycling Your Shredded Paper

Businesses and individuals, who want to ensure that their sensitive data and information remains safe, shred all kinds of personal and confidential documents. It is possible to recycle the remaining shredded material; however, you will need to check the guidelines locally prior to putting it out for collection, because shredded paper can be a tricky material to handle and process for recycling.

SHREDDED PAPER MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED BY YOUR LOCAL RECYCLING CENTRE

Shredded paper can cause problems during the recycling process because it can bind up the equipment and impair the operation of the machinery. Most centres will accept shredded paper providing it is white or light in colour, completely free of contaminants and bagged separately and securely.

REDUCED RECYCLABILITY

When shredding paper, the fibres of the material are reduced to such an extent that the recyclability of the material is significantly reduced, because the longer the fibres in the paper remain, the more value the paper has as a recyclable resource. Over time, as paper fibres are recycled repeatedly, the fibres become shorter until the material is only fit to be downcycled and used in the production of tissue paper.

Shredding speeds up this process and takes great quality paper with long fibres straight to a lower grade where it is only suitable to be downcycled.

SOMETIMES SHREDDING IS UNAVOIDABLE – BUT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO PUT IT TO GOOD USE!

For many business owners there is no getting around the need to shred and destroy certain documents, because of the legal responsibility to protect staff and clients personal data. But unless the paper really needs to be shredded, it is preferable to send it for recycling in its original state.

If you’re shredding small quantities of paper on a regular basis, you could consider some other ways to reuse the resulting material rather than worrying about how to recycle it.

There are plenty of ways to put it to good use, for example:

  • Compost – Providing you do not overwhelm the compost heap with excessive amounts (and avoid paper with a glossy finish), composting is a great way to turn your biodegradable waste into something useful!
  • Animal Bedding / Litter – Shredded paper can be used to make all kinds of animals comfortable and can be used in litter trays too. If you do not own any pets of your own, why not see if you are able to find a local business or charity such as a shelter that would be glad to take it off your hands!
  • Packaging – Rather than using plastic bubble wrap or Styrofoam to package parcels and protect items being sent in the mail? You could also use the shredded material as padding to protect delicate and breakable items whilst they are in storage.
  • Eco Logs – If you have plenty of time on your hands and you are keen to do your bit to protect the environment, you could consider soaking your shredded paper and using an inexpensive little compressor to turn it into a paper log for fuel!

FOR EFFICIENT HANDLING OF LARGE QUANTITIES OF SHREDDED PAPER

Businesses who produce larger quantities of shredded paper may benefit from hiring a professional service to take care of this side of their waste management, particularly if the shredding is carried out infrequently on a large scale; for example an annual purge of inactive confidential documents that are taking up a great deal of space. Shredding large quantities of paper is a time consuming process and in an office environment, there is often limited space to house large pieces of equipment.

This type of company may offer an onsite shredding service, or alternatively collect your waste material in secure containers and transport them to a secure facility where they can be shredded and disposed of giving you peace of mind.

Those with the space and manpower to take care of their shredding on site should have no problem finding a willing collection service to recycle, or downcycle this useful waste material.