Can You Recycle Shredded Paper?

Climate Real Talk Team

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This is a picture of shredded paper.

Considering how much waste ends up in landfills, asking if one can recycle shredded paper is not out of place. 

Paper is one of the most recycled items, which makes it among the best renewable products. And considering how other trash that can’t be recycled ends up in our landfill, it is no mean feat.

There are some rules about recycling paper. And our average recycling center can only recycle some kinds of paper products. One example of paper products that pose a challenge to recycle is shredded paper. 

So can shredded paper be recycled? This blog post provides everything you need to know.

How Is Paper Recycled?

This is a picture of shredded paper that is to be recycled.

According to Recycling Guide, the process of recycling paper is pretty easy. Paper from your home recycling bin is taken to the recycling center and put into bigger bins, which are then sorted by type and grade. 

Any inks, plastic film, glue, or staples are removed from the separated paper by washing it in soapy water.

The product is then broken down into a slurry of paper pulp, which is spread out to dry on huge screens. Once it’s ready, the new paper can be used to make cardboard, toilet paper, newspaper, or office paper, among other things.

Can Shredded Paper Be Recycled?

Yes, recycled paper can be used in the same way as regular paper. However, recycling facilities struggle to recycle shreds of paper. You may believe, “Hey, the paper’s been destroyed already. Recycling ought to be quite simple.” However, that is not how it operates.

 The pulp that has been washed in the recycling plant or paper mill is spread on huge screens to dry. Unlike the recycled paper you made in elementary school, paper mills need long strips of paper that will catch on their screens and stick to them. Shredded paper, which is small pieces, will likely fall through and make a big mess.

How To Recycle Shredded Paper

When you put paper in the recycling bin, it gets picked up and taken to a recycling center near you. When paper gets there, it is separated from other types of recycling, like plastics

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It’s difficult to keep small pieces of glass or plastic from getting mixed with shredded paper. If the paper gets past the sorting process, it can cause jams in the machines and break them. 

Also, the fibers in shredded paper are shorter and might be too short to be used to make new paper. Because of these things, it can be an uphill task to recycle shredded paper. 

Putting shredded paper in your recycling bin with other items makes it hard to sort. But you can contribute to making things easier for recycling centers by sorting them in clear bags and putting them in your curbside bin where they can see them. 

Will Recycling Plants Recycle Shredded Paper?

Shredded paper can be taken to recycling centers and waste management boards. Workers at the recycling center have to separate the fibers by hand carefully. 

Because it takes more effort, shredding paper is frequently thought to be less valuable than other recyclable paper. As a result, many recycling companies don’t like accepting them. 

If you want to recycle shredded paper, you should check the website of your city or town for specific instructions on how to do so.

What If I Have To Destroy Any Of My Old Documents?

Even though it’s unnecessary to shred all paper, many people do because it has confidential information. Before discarding papers containing sensitive information or personal or financial information, they should be shredded or at least partly destroyed. 

Eco-Cycle has suggested ripping off any sensitive information from a piece of paper before putting the rest of the page in the recycling bin. Then you can just shred all the information in an envelope. This is far better as there is reduced waste, and recycling centers will have less trouble. 

Smaller shredded paper can be used as “browns” in your home compost bin. The paper should be excellent for adding carbon to the compost as long as it contains no plastic or staples.

How To Recycle Shredded Paper 

There are many ways to recycle shredded paper. They include the following: 

a. Check Your Local Curbside Pickup

Depending on where you live, some services will let the shredded paper leave with the curbside practice. This isn’t usually done, so make sure to check with the waste management program in your town or city first. 

They may also need the paper to be arranged a certain way before picking it up. For example, some programs ask that you separate them from other items and then keep them in a box or bag. 

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b. Drop Off

Different cities and states have different rules about recycling shredded paper. There may be certain places set aside for collection, or it could be done in the same place as normal recycling. 

Find out whether there are any drop-off service costs and the quantity of paper to bring.

c. Take-Back Programs

Some places have official “take-back days” when the community gathers for a large-scale collection. You may be able to shred documents at the event, or you may be able to bring bags of documents that you have already shredded at home.

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9 Recycling Alternatives for Shredded Paper

If you can help it, don’t shred paper because it may make recycling difficult. Instead, think of other alternatives. Shredded paper can be recycled into different things. They include the following: 

1. Compost it

Shredded paper is a great way to add a lot of carbon to your compost pile. Paper can be composted as long as it doesn’t have a lot of toxic colored ink or a shiny coating like magazines. This includes all kinds of shredded paper, from thin newsprint to thick cardboard. This makes it easier for the paper to break down.

Just put the paper shreds on your “browns” (leaves, sawdust, straw) and then cover them with “greens” like fruit scraps and vegetables, grass clippings, and coffee grounds.

2. Pets

Shredded Paper can be used to make bed for pets.

Shredded paper clumps together nicely and can be used to make soft, comfortable bedding for small pets or birds. 

It is easy to clean and put away when used as a liner or insulating layer. Since you’ll probably keep getting bills and papers, you’ll always have enough to give your pet a new bed.

3. Moving/Packaging

Paper shreds are easy to find and lightweight, making them easy to transport. It works well as a box filler and prevents fragile items from shifting during shipping. 

When next you need to mail a box or wrap something, the shredded paper can be put to good use. 

4. Plants And Gardens

When you buy paper for your home or office, choose compostable paper. And after it has fulfilled its purpose, you can turn it into healthy soil for your farm or garden.

It can be used to protect potted plants and trees from frost and freezing temperatures throughout the winter. Spread the shredded paper around the base of the plants or trees like mulch. Also, you can use it as landscape bedding to keep the soil moist and cover the roots.

5. Use It In A Seed Starter

You can use the paper shreds to start seeds. Making your seed starter is a fun do-it-yourself project, and the paper’s high carbon content makes it easy for seeds to grow into plants.

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6. Make Eco-Friendly Confetti

Shredded paper can be repurposed to produce confetti for parties.

Making confetti out of shredded paper is another way to put shredded paper to good use. 

Plastic confetti from the store is bad for the environment, unlike paper which won’t constitute harm to anyone or the environment.

When you’re done using the paper, scoop it up and put it in a bag. You can use it again for your next party. 

7. Create Art Projects

Try using your excess shreds of paper to create paper mache if you enjoy DIY projects. 

You can make a piata, a bowl, or a sculpture that is one of a kind. It’s an interesting and cheap way to make art.

8. Fill Boxes

Styrofoam packaging, which is hard to recycle, can be replaced by shredded paper. It’s light and fluffy, so it has a lot of volume without being heavy. It can also keep items together to prevent breaking. 

9. Use It As Vase Filler

You can use shredded paper in vases and baskets the same way you would use marbles or other fillers. 

Shredded paper can be used to fill an Easter basket, so you can finally get rid of that fake plastic “grass.”


1. Recycle Or Discard Shredded Paper, Which Is Better?

Recycling is always better than throwing things away, even though the process is more complicated.

2. Do Recycling Centers Accept Shredded Paper?

Different states and cities have different rules about where you can recycle shredded paper. 

It is best to check with your local sanitation department or waste management program.

3. Can Shredded Paper Be Composted?

Most shredded paper works well in a composting mix of “browns.” The only things that shouldn’t be composted are glossy magazine paper and any paper with toxic ink.

4. Can I Use Curbside Recycling Program To Recycle Shredded Paper?

This depends on where you reside. Before putting shredded paper in your curbside recycling bin, ask your local curbside recycling program to see if they accept it. 

5. Why Is Shredded Paper Hard To Recycle?

It is difficult because the length of the fibers is short and can spoil the machines used for recycling. 


Moderation is the key to living in an eco-friendly way. Our environment will be better off if we use less paper. This can be done if all our bills come electronically instead of by mail. 

In this article, we have been able to list several ways that shredded paper can be used. In what ways are you going to use yours?

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