• Can You Recycle Shredded Paper?

    Can You Recycle Shredded Paper?

    What can you do with all that shredded paper you have lying around? If the first thought that comes to mind is tossing it in the recycle bin, you should rethink your choices. Shredded paper shouldn’t be thrown in the recycle bin. But this doesn’t mean you cannot recycle your shredded paper. With a little bit of know-how and preparation, you can hack it.

    Why is shredded paper a pain to recycle?

    Most local councils collect shredded paper from regular household recycling collections. Usually, they request that the shredded paper is put into paper envelopes or bags before being thrown into recycling bins. But even then, it’s essential to check with the local council before putting shredded paper into the recycling bin. This is because recycling shredded paper has some issues. The issues include:

    • Shredding paper cuts the fibre in the paper into short lengths. This means it’s difficult to turn the shreds into quality paper pulp to use in making new paper products.
    • Since the shreds are usually tiny, they get trapped in the recycling machinery and become a fire hazard.
    • Third, some local councils don’t want the extra work of cleaning up shredded paper that is blown into the streets during collection.

    How to minimize shredding

    When wrapping paper is laminated, thin, or includes metallic foil and glitter, it’s hard to recycle. Thin wrapping paper doesn’t have a lot of fibre. As such, it cannot be gleaned through processing machines while foils and laminated sheets cannot be processed using common recycling tools. Thick un-waxed wrapping paper is recyclable.

    How can you recycle wrapping paper at home?

    Before you even think of recycling, consider shredding documents less often than you usually would. Only shred documents that contain personal and sensitive information. For instance, it’s okay to shred your credit card bill since it has personal and financial information. However, you should remove the advertisement and flyers that come with the bill. Add these papers into the normal recycling collection bins.

    Also, instead of shredding the entire document, consider cutting out the part with the sensitive information and shredding that portion only. The rest of the paper can be thrown into the recycling bin.

    With that said, it’s safer to shred sensitive documents once you are done with them. Sensitive documents include:

    • CVs – your personal history in the CV can be used by hackers to answer security questions.
    • Junk mail – fraudsters are cunning. They only need your address and name to device a way of applying credit cards using your name.
    • Payslips – they often include work details and insurance numbers. These details are more than enough for a swindler to cause you harm.
    • Cheque books – just like bank statements, your old cheque boos ay reveal your account number or code.

    Process of recycling shredded paper

    Shredded paper is labelled mixed paper. The first step in recycling it is separating it from office paper, cardboard paper and newspapers the shreds are then bundled into a bale and sent to recycling mills where they are processed through pulpers.

    Pulpers are machines that add water and chemicals to breakdown the paper shreds into fibre. The ink and adhesives are removed, and the fibres bond together. The fibres are then rolled and dried before they are processed into new paper. But because the fibres are shredded into small lengths; the new paper is of a lower quality than regular office paper. The new paper products include paper towels, egg cartons, and coffee filters.

    How to recycle shredded paper

    If you don’t want to throw the shredded paper into the recycle bin, there are a couple of things you can do.

    • Shredded paper is useful as compost. But it should not be the glossy type used for magazines. You can mix the shredded paper with compost. The paper will absorb moisture when the compost gets too wet.
    • You can spread it out for your pets to use as bedding. Pets like hamsters, rabbits, and gerbils will appreciate it. And if your pet is herbivorous, you can use it in compost to add nutrients to the compost.
    • If you send delicate items through the mail, you can use the shreds as cushioning. Shredded paper is a great alternative to bubble wrap.
    • You can take it to the recycling centre even when the local council doesn’t collect it.

    How recycling shredded paper helps the environment

    Recycling shredded paper can reduce environmental impact and yield invaluable benefits. Estimates reveal that a tonne of recycled shredded paper saves:

    • Oil – 1400 litres • Energy – 4100 kilowatts • Water – 26500 litres • Trees – 17 trees • Landfill space – 2.7 cubic metres

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