how to dispose of shredded paper

Wondering how to dispose of shredded paper? Whether you work in an office with a lot of paper-based files and records or live in a house full of children who love arts and crafts, you’ll find a never-ending mound of shredded paper to dispose of.

This pile only grows bigger as we rip up documents with personal information like phone numbers, bank account details, etc. before we toss them in the trash.

Perhaps growing environmental concern has you researching on ways of disposing of shredded paper to minimize your carbon footprint.

Importance of Disposal of Shredded Paper

Paper is one of the most reusable materials ever produced on this planet. It is 100% organic and hence, biodegradable. However, there are some caveats.

Your average recycling center cannot handle certain kinds of paper products, such as shredded paper.

You cannot avoid shredding paper, especially if they have your personal details. This leaves us with a lot of shredded paper and a disposal issue.

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If you’re considering learning ways of disposing shredded paper in a simple and more eco-friendly way, you have options.

Here are some ways you can safely empty your shredders.

Can I Put Shredded Paper in My Recycling Bin?

Shredded paper can be recycled. It is still paper, after all. However, it does pose a challenge for most recycling plants, which is why it’s not an ideal shredded paper disposal method.

Read on to find out why!

Will Recycling Plants Accept Shredded Paper?

It depends on which type of plant or mill you’re taking your load to. Most recycling plants will accept it, although they thoroughly dislike having to and generally have some sort of policy, especially if you’re dealing with bulk.

Shredded paper is the bane of a recycling plant worker’s job. This is because recycling workers have to carry out the painstaking labor of separating paper manually.

With paper torn to bits, this becomes tedious. They’re loose and blow away as well.

This makes them trickier to sort.

Recycling plants process paper by drying washed paper pulp on a large screen, and shredded paper slips through the machinery and doesn’t stick to the screens, thereby causing a mess.

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The strips that slip through a checking or automated machinery designed to handle sheets get mixed up with other materials. This is unacceptable.

As a result, shredded paper commands a very low recyclable value.

If you’re ever handing in paper strips for recycling, send it contained in a cardboard box or sealed plastic bag.

A lot of recycling plants also have regulations making this mandatory.

How to Dispose of Shredded Paper?

disposing of shredded paper

Before you box shredded paper and pass it along, consider a few things. For instance, what sort of information have you shredded?

And the type of shredder you use since they come in variants that either reduce paper to strips or tiny bits.

Identity theft opportunities: credit theft is not something you want to risk after all. If your documents contain any sensitive information that can be pieced together, that could spell trouble.

If you can’t shred it or trash it, find an alternative method of disposal.

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For large scale offices that shred hundreds of sheets on a daily basis, disposing of shredded paper becomes particularly tricky, which is why here are some alternative ways to go about it:

#1. Bag it and Trash it

This is, of course, the easiest way how to dispose shredded paper. But as we discussed earlier, it may not be the safest route if you’ve shredded important documents or have too many of them.

Suppose it’s just a bag or two though, it would be alright to toss them with the trash.

Eco-Cycle came up with an idea to curb the privacy problem by shredding only the part of the document containing sensitive information so that it was unintelligible.

The remaining paper can be kept intact and given for recycling.

#2. Contact Your Shredding Company

Companies that manufacture your shredder have to find a way to deal with the mountains of paper strips they create.

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Most of them perform such services for their commercial clients owing to their substantial daily volume.

They’re also your safest bet when dealing with important documents. For security, they’ll mix up shreds of your documents with other documents so nothing can be pieced together.

It’ll come at a small fee, but it’s worth it. You can either hire them to pick up the shreds or go drop them off yourself at one of their recycling centers.

#3. Visit a Local Shredding Event

Shredding companies also partner up with local municipalities to set up events where you can just come and drop off your bags.

The city will take care of your shredded paper disposal securely and in an eco-friendly manner.

These events take place regularly in almost all major cities. Check with your local government or shredding company to find out more. For a small fee, you can also have it picked up at your curb.

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#4. Use it in Compost

Paper is made from carbon, which is an organic element. This makes it suitable as “brown” material for your compost pile, along with vegetable scraps, fresh lawn trimmings, and manure.

A healthy compost pile requires the perfect balance of essential nutrients. The carbon from shredded paper will balance excess nitrogen broken down from the latter organic material.

Use shredded paper as the base of your compost pile, so it’s buried deep underneath the soil.

This is probably the most eco-friendly method for disposing of shredded paper on this list. For a full-length tutorial on how to add paper to your compost, check out the link below.

#5. Use the Shredded Paper for Something Else

We’ve discussed how to dispose shredded paper. If you don’t have that option or prefer to upcycle, here are some suggestions on using wastepaper instead.

Shredded paper actually has useful applications, especially in the office.

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Packing Agent

You can use it as packaging material—a great alternative to Styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap. Not only will you save on packaging material costs, but the environment will also thank you for it! 

Bedding Stuffing

If you have a pet at home, like a cat, you can upcycle paper as bedding stuffing or as the lowermost layer in a litter box.


As we discussed earlier, composting is also a great way to get some use out of your shredded papers while disposing of them. It makes excellent compost fodder.


Lastly, you could use it as fire fuel, which also incidentally helps you dispose of paper but probably not in the most eco-friendly way.

Some Final Thoughts

Security breaches are a pressing concern, no doubt, but you should consider trying to shred as little paper as possible, given how hard it is to recycle.

Sort your documents and only shred the pages containing confidential information, and the rest can go in the recycling bin just as it is.

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This will also save you the trouble of dealing with heaps of paper scraps produced at the end of each week.

We trust you found this guide on how to dispose of shredded paper informative and useful.

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