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Everything You Need to Know About Paper Shredding

shredded paper

Did you know, not every item containing names and addresses needs to be shredded? And that shredded paper cannot be placed in the mixed recycling cart? There are certain items that should be shredded and handled separately from standard paper recycling services. Continue reading to learn why it is better to recycle more and shred less.

What should be shredded

  • Does it have personal identifiable information?
  • Does it contain information protected by privacy laws?
  • Does it contain sensitive, confidential, or corporate information?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you have documents to shred. Personal identifiable information should always be destroyed by cutting or blacking out sensitive parts, burning documents or shredding them. This includes documents containing; social security numbers, drivers' licenses, state ID numbers, passport numbers, alien registration numbers and financial account numbers. Public information like names, addresses and birthdays can just be recycled.

How to recycle shredded paper

Please do not recycle shredded paper pieces in your recycling cart. Even if shredded paper is in a bag that's stapled shut, the bags may rip open, sending contents flying everywhere. To be sure shredded paper from your business is recycled, drop off small quantities of shredded paper at a transfer station or use a paper shredding service that will shred and recycle the paper for you. If you are unable to drop off shredded paper at the transfer station and don't have a shredding service, bag the shredded paper and throw it in the garbage.

Paper Shredding Services

Private shredding services are available to help businesses safely and easily dispose of sensitive information. These companies offer high-security pickup, storage, and destruction of important documents. Some paper shredding services not only destroy paper containing personal identifiable information, but also hard drives, data tapes, CDs and different types of media. Paper shredding services are wonderful for businesses looking for a safe destruction of contacts, budgets, applications, payroll statements and much more.

Businesses may host shred events for the local community. If your business is interested in hosting a shred event, contact

How is shredded paper recycled?

After shredded paper is collected and baled, it is shipped to recycled paper mills where it is screened and deinked. From there, its fiber is used in manufacturing new recycled products. Each type of paper creates a different quality fiber and the quality limits what the paper can be turned into. Shredded paper has a lower quality because of its weak and ripped edges. Therefore, it is important to only shred what's necessary and recycle the rest!

The Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) hosted a "To Shred or Not to Shred?" event on March 3, 2021. This event covered everything from what should and shouldn't be shredded to where shredded paper goes for recycling and how it is reprocessed into new paper products. The WSRA welcomed four different presenters; Elena Huizar from the Consumer Protection Office of the Attorney General, Jack Mullenix from Shred-it, John Salvador from Georgia Pacific and Jay Simmons from Norpac. Watch the full webinar on Youtube.

For more paper shredding resources, check out these links:

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