To Shred or Not to Shred?

With tax season behind us, shredding personal documents is a common and sometimes necessary practice. However, shredding affects recycling by shortening the fibers, which lowers the paper’s grade from high to mixed. Mixed grade paper is still recyclable, but is not as valuable on the commodities market. When it comes to paper recycling, the longer the fiber, the more valuable the paper.

Before shredding your paper, pause to consider. Is it necessary? Are there just a few lines of information that you want to keep protected? Instead of shredding, you could conceal this information with a permanent marker or simply cut out the sensitive information, such as an address or account number at the top of the page.

If you must shred, long, spaghetti-type shredding is better than cross-cut shredding. Cross-cutting makes the fibers shorter than spaghetti shredding. Once shredded, your paper with non-toxic ink is a wonderful ingredient for your backyard compost efforts. Or, you may be able to recycle shredded paper in your community’s recycling program. Typically, you need to bag or box the paper to keep the contents from escaping during processing, but  check for local instructions.

Here’s a handy list of suggested paper to recycle and which papers to shred.

Thanks to Burbank Recycle Center for sharing content used in this article.

Photo credit: © iStock.com | Tom Prout

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