How to Recycle Shredded Paper

One of the best ways to avoid identity theft is to shred documents with personal information, such as bills and receipts. But don’t shred for no reason, because this significantly reduces the paper’s recycling market.

Shredded Paper Recycling Preparation

  1. If you are shredding paper at home, make sure to read the manual and operate with safety.
  2. When you’re ready to empty the shredder, most recycling programs will ask that you put shredded paper in a larger container, such as a paper or plastic bag. You’ll want to check locally for your city’s instructions.
  3. If you are partnering with a commercial shredding company (such as for your business), make sure to ask for a certificate of destruction once the recycling is complete.

Find drop-off spots for shredded paper using our Recycling Locator.

Why Recycle Shredded Paper

Shredded Paper Recycling Process

Shredded paper is classified as mixed paper, so the first step in recycling is to separate it from cardboard, office paper and newspaper grades. Shredded paper is then baled and sent to a mill.

At the mill, there are machines called pulpers that introduce water and chemicals to break down the paper into fibers. Then, any ink and adhesive is removed and the paper fibers start bonding together. Finally, the fibers are rolled and dried, then sent off to make new products. Because mixed-paper fibers are smaller than cardboard or office paper, this paper is recycled into lesser-quality paper products, such as coffee filters, egg cartons and paper towels.

Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials

Frequent Shredded Paper Recycling Questions

Additional Reading