Paper consists of fibres. The longer the fibre, the more valuable the paper is during the recycling process. As paper is recycled over and over, the fibres become shorter and must be downcycled into tissue or toilet paper. While these materials are still valuable, they’re not as valuable as nice, white office paper with long fibres.
Once you shred your personal documents, it shortens the fibres and lowers the grade of paper from high grade to mixed grade. Mixed grade paper is still recyclable, but it could be harder finding a recycler who will take it.
Not all Local Authorities accept shredded paper for recycling (Table 1) as it can cause a problem to the Material Recovery Facility. In fact, shredded paper gets lost or blown around the sorting plant and gets trapped in machinery where it can be a fire hazard.
Good news: if your Council doesn’t collect shredded paper, you can always put it in your compost bin or use it as animal bedding!
Table 1 – Comparison for the shredded paper recyclability between 5 Local Authorities
|England||London Westminster CC||Mixed recycling bag||“We accept shredded paper but if you put it in a paper envelope it will help our recycling machines to turn the paper into new products more easily”.|
|England||Oxford CC||Blue bin for recycling||Dry mixed recycling. It can also go in brown bin (garden waste)|
|Scotland||Edinburgh||Blue lidded communal bin (just paper)|
|Green wheelie individual bin||Dry mixed recycling|
|Wales||Cardiff||Green dry recyclables bag||“Put your shredded paper in its own green bag”|
|Northern Ireland||Belfast||Compost bin/
Blue bin (if you have 3 stacked recycling boxes)
Dry mixed recycling
This is the end of our short story about shredded paper. We hope that you found it informative.
A final note. Just in England there are 350 Local Authorities collecting household waste and different rules can create confusion. Would recycling be easier, if you could rely on a mobile app that given your location will let you know which one is the right bin for each item? Click here to know something more about it.
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