Shredded paper is often considered a waste material. However, it has a wide range of applications, from packaging to insulation.
In fact, it’s estimated that over half of the U.S. population throws away around 3 million tons of paper every year.
Paper shredders are great at destroying documents, but they also create a lot of waste.
It’s odd, considering the fact that paper is a very recyclable material and is very renewable. As resources go, it’s one of the more sustainable ones.
That’s because people don’t really know whether or not the shredded paper is recyclable.
Well, we’re here to change that and educate you on whether or not shredded paper can be recycled.
How Is Shredded Paper Different From Normal Paper?
Shredded paper is different from normal paper because it’s made up of smaller pieces than normal paper.
This means that when you throw out shredded paper, there’s more chance that your local recycling plant will have trouble processing it.
The reason for this is that shredded paper tends to get stuck together in big clumps.
If you put them into a bin with other paper, then it’ll be easier for the machines to process.
Shredded Paper And Recycling
So can shredded paper be recycled? Yes! There are many companies that specialize in recycling shredded paper.
They take shredded paper and turn it back into new products like cardboard, insulation, and even tissue paper.
So if you’ve got a ton of shredded paper lying around, why not use it instead of throwing it away?
In fact, some cities offer special bins where you can drop off the shredded paper. These bins are usually located near places where people recycle their trash.
You can find these bins in shopping malls, grocery stores, and office buildings. But there are some issues when it comes to recycling shredded paper.
Common Problems With Recycling Shredded Paper
The problem is that shredded paper isn’t always easy to sort. When you shred something, you tend to cut it into small pieces.
That means that the pieces fall apart easily or get stuck to other things. Things that may not be recyclable. This makes sorting shredded paper difficult.
It’s also important to note that shredded paper contains a lot of ink.
Ink is toxic, and it can cause problems when mixed with other materials. For example, ink can make plastic unusable.
If you accidentally mix shredded paper with regular paper, then you could end up having to pay extra money to dispose of the contaminated paper.
Why Can’t I Just Throw My Shredded Papers Away?
There are two reasons why you shouldn’t just throw shredded papers away. First, shredded paper is still paper.
Even though it’s been shredded, it still has its own properties.
Some of those properties include being able to absorb moisture and being flammable. Both of which mean that shredded paper can burn.
Second, shredded paper is still part of the environment. It’s made up of trees and plants. Those trees and plants need water and nutrients to grow.
Shredded paper, when recycled into mulch can provide these.
If you destroy all of that by throwing shredded paper away, then you’re actually taking away the life support system that keeps our planet alive.
So recycle your shredded paper for the good of the planet.
How Is Shredded Paper Recycled?
Paper can be recycled, yes. But you have to do some work first.
The typical process involves pulping (breaking up) the paper into smaller pieces, separating out any contaminants or inks, then washing the pulp so as not to contaminate other materials.
Then the pulp is dried, usually by heating, which makes the paper brittle again. Finally, the paper is sorted for different uses, such as newsprint, cardboard, etc.
Recycling shredded paper doesn’t require much more than this basic process.
In fact, most shredded paper recycling facilities don’t even separate the paper from the rest of the material.
Instead, they simply grind it up and put it through a machine that separates the paper from everything else.
And because the shredded paper is already broken down, it doesn’t need to be broken before it goes through the machine.
So shredded paper recycling is easier than traditional paper recycling.
Shredded Paper Recycling Processes:
- Pulp Making – Breaking the paper into smaller bits.
- Separating Contaminants – Removing anything that might harm the paper during processing.
- Washing – Cleaning the paper from any remaining contaminants.
- Drying – Making the paper brittle again.
- Sorting – Choosing what type of paper will go where.
- Grinding – Putting the paper through a machine that breaks it down further.
- Compacting – Putting the paper back together again.
- Crushing – Putting the paper back into its original shape.
- Baling – Packaging the paper into bales.
- Loading – Taking the bales onto trucks or trains.
- Unloading – Getting the bales off the truck or train and putting them in storage.
- Storage – Storing the paper until it’s needed.
- Processing – Turning the paper into new products.
- Disposal – Sending the paper to a landfill or incinerator to be burned.
- Reuse – Using the paper again.
Now you know that shredded paper can be recycled, and it should be recycled wherever possible. The benefits of recycling shredded paper are many.
Not only does it help keep the world clean, but it also helps save energy. And if you live near a forest, it may even help protect that forest.
But the best way to reduce your environmental impact is to start recycling right now. Start with one thing at a time.
Maybe start with just a few papers here and there. Then gradually increase the amount you recycle. Eventually, you’ll find yourself doing it automatically.
You can even shred paper and then compost it. There are several commercial companies that will pick up your paper waste and turn it into organic fertilizer.
It’s a great way to use your paper scraps without having to pay someone to take them away!