With many people striving to take control of their personal information and prevent the nightmare of identity theft, home document shredding has gotten increasingly common. It’s even more prominent in the business world, where many companies shred hundreds or thousands of documents every day to protect confidential information.
However, once those documents are shredded, you’ll still have a bunch of shredded paper to get rid of! So, how do you dispose of shredded paper? Should you recycle it? Put it in the garbage? We’ll dive into the answers to these questions below.
Can I Recycle Shredded Paper?Let’s get the bad news out of the way: In most places, shredded paper can’t be recycled in a curbside bin. That’s because, for the following reasons, it’s actually harder for recyclers to reclaim shredded paper:
- It’s difficult to sort out from other single-stream recyclable materials
- It’s so light that it tends to fly everywhere
- It gets wet and dirty easily, which makes it unusable
Like most aspects of recycling, there are exceptions to this rule. Some recycling providers can recycle shredded paper, but ask that you place it in a plastic shopping bag or drawstring trash bag to keep it contained. Workers can then remove the paper and empty the bag into a paper recycling stream at the recycling plant. Don’t assume that this is OK with your recycling provider, however. Check with them first, and don’t recycle the shreds unless they explicitly say you can.
You may also be able to take shredded paper directly to a recycling center, but again, call or email ahead to verify that they accept it first. Some recycling facilities won’t take it, or they may only accept it from commercial shredding providers in large quantities. Browse Our Collection of Drawstring Trash Bags Here
Can I Compost Shredded Paper?
In many cases, the answer is that yes, shredded paper is compostable! If the paper you’re shredding is everyday black-and-white documents and junk mail, composting shredded paper can be an excellent source of the “browns” necessary to add carbon to your compost pile. This can be especially handy if you live in an urban area where classic browns like dead leaves aren’t easily available.
There are a few types of paper you should be wary of composting. Generally, it’s not recommended to compost paper with a glossy texture or paper that’s full of colored inks and dyes. These dyes and paper stocks often contain chemicals that can leave behind toxic residue in your soil.
Other non-compostable materials to watch out for include staples and plastic envelope windows. If you plan to use your shredded paper for compost, remove these before shredding and find another way to dispose of them.
Source: Air Images/Shutterstock
Can I Throw Away Shredded Paper?
If you can’t recycle or compost your paper, the trash is the best place for it. While this does mean it will end up in a landfill, take comfort in the fact that paper is one of the shortest-lived types of garbage. In fact, most types of paper will break down completely in just two to six weeks!
Worried about the security of documents in your trash even after they’ve been shredded? To avoid making your trash a target, bag up the shredded documents in black garbage bags to keep them away from prying eyes. If you need to go the extra mile, distribute the shredded documents between multiple trash cans or mix them in with food scraps and pet waste.
What Else Can I Do with Shredded Paper?
Businesses often use document shredding services as an all-in-one solution for getting rid of sensitive data. These services dispose of the documents on their own, so you don’t have to worry about it. Some offer residential services as well. Many have special arrangements with recycling centers that allow them to recycle shredded paper in bulk quantities.
Some people also find clever ways to reuse shredded paper. People who own small animals like guinea pigs and hamsters, for example, use certain types of shredded paper as bedding for their pets. Other people use it as an alternative to packing peanuts for protecting fragile goods in the mail. Finally, if you’ve got a fireplace or fire pit, shredded paper makes a fantastic fire starter!Need Black Garbage Bags? Find Yours Here!
Source: sirtravelalot/ShutterstockPlasticplace has everything you need to make any kind of trash disposal a breeze! See our selection of Simplehuman compatible trash bags, or view all of our affordable black trash bags for protecting your privacy on your most important shredded documents.