Stop! Don’t put Shredded Paper in your Recycling Bin


Now that many cities are moving towards single stream recycling systems, one thing that is not clear to consumers is that not all paper can go into these big sorters. In fact do not put any shredded paper in as it clogs machines, and if it does get thru it  lowers the value of that batch of paper!

Shredded paper is too small to sort—the pieces fall through the cracks of the sorting machines, stick to the belts and end up all over the floor.

As well, the paper mills that buy recycled paper must do a quality sort on the material before they put it into their multi-million dollar machines, and it’s just plain impossible to do a good quality sort of shredded paper. Many contaminants can hide in the shred, such as plastic strips from a document cover that were accidentally shredded along with the paper. For this reason, paper markets don’t like to buy shredded paper and don’t like to see it in with the higher-grade junk mail and office paper.

When you shred paper, what you’re actually doing is cutting the lengths of the individual paper fibers, thus cutting the future recycling potential of that fiber. The length of a paper fiber determines its value since a longer fiber can be used to make a higher-grade paper and can be recycled more times.


  • Worms love a layer of shredded paper on top of them. They like the dark and the paper keeps the moisture content nice and even. So use the paper in your worm composter.
  • Compost piles are always looking for “brown matter” during these winter months, so that is a great place to put your shredded paper. It will virtually dissolve before spring. We have a Sunmar composter which is filled with kitchen waste and the newspaper definitely helps heat up the composter during the winter months.




And if you are curious, there are a host of videos on YouTube showing you how these very cool single stream recycling centers work. I particularly like to watch how magnets make the aluminum cans fly away from the other waste materials.

YouTube Videos : Tour recycling plants and watch the recycling process



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