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Can You Recycle Shredded Paper?

Can You Recycle Shredded Paper?

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Paper is one of the best materials to recycle. It’s easy to process and can do through the cycle several times before becoming unusable. Each ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees and 60 pounds of pollution.

Not all types of paper can be recycled in the same way. Paper is easily one of the least difficult to recycle out of various household items, such as plastic bags and cardboard boxes.

You probably have lots of paper with your name and other identifying information on it. Shredding paper is how to destroy sensitive documents. However, shredded paper poses a challenging problem for recyclers.

Can Shredded Paper Be Recycled?

Americans use a lot of paper. According to the University of Southern Indiana, almost 85 million tons of paper are used each year. Much of that is office paper, but households deal with piles of paper too. The average household tosses about 13,000 separate pieces of paper annually, much of that junk mail and packaging.

Paper is one of the most recyclable materials we have. It is easy to break down and reprocess into new products. For recycling, paper is broken down into fibers. The longer the fibers, the better.

Printer paper has long fibers, making it ideal for recycling. Soft paper, such as paper towels and toilet paper, has short fibers. These types of paper are not suitable for recycling, as the fibers are already so short.

Shredded paper has the same short-fiber problem. Paper cut into strips or pieces in a shredder break the fibers. This makes it challenging to recycle this type of paper waste.

Paper can be recycled several times before it starts to degrade, shredded paper has already been broken down in the shredding process. So, it has shorter fibers to begin with.

So, it takes some special handling to deal with shredded paper. Typically, you can't place paper in your curbside recycling bin. Mixing shredded paper in with other materials can render the entire load unusable.

Small pieces of shredded paper are difficult to separate from other materials at a single-stream recycling facility. It gets caught in the machinery and is hard to separate from other materials, especially broken glass.

Shredded paper gets more difficult to recycle when wet.

How to Recycle Shredded Paper

There are things you can do to ensure that your shredded paper ends up in the recycling process rather than ending up in a landfill.

An infographic detailing how to recycle shredded paper.
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1.     Use a Shredding Service

A shredding operation provides shredding services to the community, usually at community shredding events. Many services have trucks that can collect paper for shredding. Paper is shredded on-site in the truck’s mobile shredding machine. They are also shredded off-site in bulk.

2.     Check with Your Curbside Recycling Service

Some residential waste haulers offer periodic collection of materials that are typically not accepted in regular recycling programs. If you have shredded paper to recycle, be sure to ask about the proper containment of the shredded paper. You may get special bags or a recycling cart to use.

3.     Take Your Shredded Paper to a Recycling Center

Not all recycling facilities accept shredded paper, so check before you head out. Some may have restrictions on the type of paper accepted. Commonly, this includes glossy color printed paper or anything that contains metal, such as bindings or staples.

4.     Reuse Shredded Paper Products in Your Home

Shredded paper can be reused in many applications. These are some ideas for using up your shredded paper:

·       Use as packing material when shipping or storing items

·       Repurpose as animal bedding in a small animal cage

·       Stuff into paper towel rolls to use as kindling fire starter

·       Place in an Easter basket in place of plastic Easter basket grass

·       Reuse paper bags for shopping, storage, and other uses

5.     Recycle Shredded Paper in Your Garden

Shredded paper is an excellent addition to your garden. You can recycle it in your compost bin. Keep the amount of shredded paper under 50% of your compost pile.

Yard waste and other organic carbon material can make up the rest. Take care to mix your compost pile well, as shredded paper can clump together.

Use shredded paper as mulch in your garden to help prevent weeds. Any shredded paper used in your garden should be free from envelope plastic or colored glossy paper.

Benefits of Recycling Shredded Paper

Recycling reduces trash and cuts down on the manufacture of new products from raw materials. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends paper recycling whenever possible. There are several environmental benefits that come from paper recycling:

Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Paper Manufacturing

The EPA states that landfills are the largest source of methane emissions in the U.S., with paper decomposition being the largest contributor. Paper recycling cuts down on this methane emission from landfills. It also leaves more trees uncut, which allows for more removal of carbon out of the air, a process called carbon sequestration.

Saves Landfill Space

About 28% of the solid trash in landfills is paper. It takes 3.3 cubic yards of space to hold one ton of paper. A reduction in the amount of paper going into our landfills reduces the need for more landfill space and landfill construction.

Keeps Our Community Clean

Shredded paper can blow out from trash bins very easily, littering the surrounding area. This litter is very difficult to clean up. Shredded paper in landfills also results in increased escape of trash into neighboring communities.

Reduce the Consumption of Water and Energy

Making paper from recycled paper pulp uses less energy and water than manufacturing from raw materials. The EPA states that recycling one ton of paper save enough energy to power the average American home for six months and saves 7,000 gallons of water.

Cut Down on Paper Use

Finally, the best way to reduce the amount of shredded paper you have for recycling is to reduce your overall paper use. There are many ways to cut down on paper in your home or office. Try these tips:

·       Switch your bills to paperless

·       Unsubscribe from mail marketing

·       Get your financial statements online

·       Only print documents if necessary

·       Use a laptop or tablet for notetaking

·       Send your files to the cloud for storage

·       Share meeting documents virtually instead of printing out

·       Send e-newsletters instead of printed ones

·       Set your printer to print double-sided

·       Buy recycled paper

Shredding your financial documents and sensitive paperwork is smart. When doing this, you don’t have to give up being environmentally conscious.

Need a Dumpster for Paper Disposal?

Cleaning out your home or office space? Got a lot of non-sensitive paper waste to dispose of? Call Discount Dumpster to get a free quote on your next dumpster rental to get the job done. We also offer free resources for those interested in paper recycling!

Call Today:

(888) 316-7010

About Monica Mayhak

I am an expert content writer with a depth of experience in the waste management and dumpster industry, with over 25 years of experience writing about construction, home improvement, property management, and education topics. As lead research writer for Discount Dumpster, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of waste management, construction, and environmental issues over the past several years.

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