Shredded Paper Recycling Solutions From Tiny Bits to Big Results

In this article, we will discuss in more detail how paper recycling works, the problem with shredded paper and if you can recycle shredded paper, where you can take it to be recycled, alternatives to shredding paper, and how to best deal with it.

How to Recycle Shredded Paper – and How to Avoid Shredding it

Can you recycle shredded paper

In this article, we will discuss in more detail how paper recycling works, the problem with shredded paper and if you can recycle shredded paper, where you can take it to be recycled, alternatives to shredding paper, and how to best deal with it.

Around two-thirds of paper is recovered each year through paper recycling in the US. Paper recycling is great for the environment, supports carbon sequestration, and is used in the production of one-third of new paper.

By recycling paper, we not only clear up space in our homes but also retain the carbon in the paper fiber (originally absorbed from the tree from which it was produced) locked up for longer and out of the atmosphere – preventing it from producing methane as it breaks down.

Shredded paper has often been seen as a good solution for the disposal of confidential documents. But when it comes to recycling, it’s not short of logistical challenges with many recycling centers not accepting it at all.

How Paper is Recycled

Once collected, the paper from your recycling bin is transferred into a large recycling container at the recycling center where contaminants such as plastic, glass, or trash are removed. It is then sorted into types and grades and washed in soapy water to remove any inks, plastic film, glue, and staples.

Next, it is set aside until a mill needs it and then transferred for processing. In the mill large machines, called pulpers, shred the paper into small pieces which are then mixed and heated with water and chemicals to break them down into fibers.

Different materials can then be added to the pulp to create various new paper products, such as cardboard or newspaper. This paper slurry is then spread using large heated metal rollers into large thin sheets and left to dry. The paper is ready to be repurposed.

These paper fibers cannot however be recycled indefinitely, as they become shorter each time they are recycled. The average lifespan of paper fiber is around 5-7 cycles before new fibers must be added.

Shredded Paper Recycling Solutions: From Tiny Bits to Big Results

There is a lot of mystery these days around paper recycling. Most seem to understand the basics like what to do with bulk paper, cardboard, or newspapers.

However, recycling paper gets complicated once you get down to plastic lined coffee cups or the paper wrapping around soda bottles. What about receipts and magazine paper? Is paper recyclable in those instances? Paper recycling actually gets much more difficult once you get into the nitty gritty of it. I demystify how to recycle paper in every instance in this post!

Paper recycling

I do get a number of more complicated questions like “can you recycle magazines” or “is tissue paper recyclable?” Each municipality accepts different items making it even more difficult to figure out what is and what isn’t recyclable. Let’s dig in and discover what kinds of paper are recyclable and how to stop filling our landfills with paper products.

I think a lot of people want to recycle paper properly, they’re just a little confused about where to start. So, here’s my comprehensive guide on recycling paper products of all kinds. Of course, always check with your own waste management facility, and remember the zero waste lifestyle is about recycling less NOT more.

As a reminder, at the beginning of 2018, China (the main global buyer of recycled paper products) stopped accepting ANY paper bales with a 1% contamination rate or higher.

The best recycling facilities are operating at a 4-5% contamination rate. It is so important that we recycle properly to try and get to the 1% rate.

Can Shredded Paper Be Recycled?

Shredded Paper

Paper is one of the most recyclable materials out there, which makes it one of the best renewable products that we create as a species. That’s no mean feat, considering how replete our environment is with piles of our other non-recyclable rubbish.

That said, recycling paper does have some caveats attached to it, and not all types of paper products can be recycled by your average recycling center. Shredded paper, for example, is a paper product that presents some challenges. But if you can’t put it with curbside recycling, where can you take shredded paper to be recycled?

where to take shredded paper to be recycled

How is paper recycled?

According to Recycling Guide, the paper recycling process is fairly simple. Paper meant for recycling is taken from your home bin and dumped into larger bins at the recycling center, which are then separated by types and grades. The separated paper is washed in soapy water to remove any inks, plastic film, glue, and staples.

The product is then worked down into a paper slurry pulp, which is then laid out on huge screens to dry. Once it’s ready, the new paper is then repurposed into any number of other paper materials like cardboard, toilet paper, newspaper, or office paper.

Sean Teer manages Envision, a not-for-profit turning plastic bottle tops that would otherwise go to landfill into prosthetic hands and arms. Based in Werribee, the project aims to change the lives of as many disadvantaged people as possible in countries like Cambodia and India. Supported by the global Coca‑Cola Foundation, Melbourne based not-for-profit Envision is in the process of turning bottle caps into mobility aids, or artificial plastic limbs.

Achievements:

  • Set up and ran Progressive Personnel – First centrally based employer marketing service of its type in Australia for Disability Services
  • Author of a number of Articles and book on Job Seeking
  • National Finalist, Best Supervisor Work for the Dole Prime Minister’s Award 2005
  • Author of Self Development Book – Master the Art of Happiness
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