Can you recycle shredded paper in the UK?

Can you recycle shredded paper in the UK?

Whether its private and confidential letters you are receiving at home or the masses of confidential documents being shredded. Paper shredders are providing a vital service in protecting and safeguarding. Since the introduction of GDPR in 2018 there is even more of an emphasis on protecting confidential data. However, with the masses of paper being shredded daily it leads us to ask the question can you recycle shredded paper in the UK?

Can you recycle shredded paper in the UK?

Being made of paper technically shredded paper is recyclable however shredded paper is not widely accepted at the curbside. In this article, we are going to be investigating why this paper product is not widely recyclable, how to recycle shredded paper and alternative uses shredded paper.

Why Can’t I Recycle Shredded Paper?

When you put items in a recycling bin, these recyclable objects end up at a specialised sorting plant which separates and prepares recyclable materials for the manufacturing of new goods. When you add shredded paper to your recycled waste, these small pieces of paper can easily get mixed in with the other recyclable materials such as glass and plastics.

This causes contamination which makes it difficult for the recyclable products to be reused. Which can prove to be an environmental disaster as they will then have to go into landfill and more organic material, will need to be harvested and processed to create the products these recycles materials where going to produce. Although some sorting is done by hand, the majority is done as part of an automated process, shredded paper causing enormous problems as its thin shreds get mixed up with everything and cannot easily be separated efficiently. Shredded paper can also get trapped in recycling machines during the sorting and picking stage which can pose a fire hazard.

For these reasons a lot of recycling plants understandably will not accept shredded paper in small volumes.

Can you recycle shredded paper in the UK?

Is there any way to recycle shredded paper?

Some recycling plants will accept shredded paper if it has been bagged properly. (Check with your local council before putting your shredded paper out to be recycled). To acceptably bag your shredded paper, it must be put in either paper bags, envelopes or cardboard boxes. Shredded paper put in plastic carrier bags will not be accepted. Most local household waste centre have a container you can place shredder paper in to be recycled. If you use a shredding company to dispose of your paper instead of shredding it yourself the paper will be recycled! These companies will compress the shredded paper into manageable bales which the recycling centres will accept. These paper bales will be mixed with water to turn it into pulp, the pulp will then enter the cleaning phase which removed and ink and debris and from here the pulp will be recycled into new paper products.

Other uses for shredded paper:

Minimising your shredding is one way to help reduce the problem. It may be convenient to put all documents you dispose of through the shredder and sometimes this can be a good habit especially if you are dealing with sensitive information however not all paper needs to be shredded. Before putting your paperwork through the shredded first check if its defiantly necessary or if can be placed straight into the recycling bin instead. With the paperwork which does go through the shredder the are many other ways you can reuse it to stop it ending up in landfill. Some of the ways you can reuse it which can also save you money include:

  • Use it as packing material. When posting fragile items shredded paper acts as great protection and can save you money. You can also use it to protect your breakable items when moving.
  • Use it under your normal cat litter. Most cats like to dig before doing their business. To reduce the need to use lots of cat litter you can firstly line the tray with shredded paper to give it some depth before adding a layer of their normal litter.
  • If you can be certain its 100% paper (no staples or other contaminates) it can be used for large domestic animal bedding. To name a few: Horses, cows and sheep. Shredded paper is becoming a popular choice of bedding for the following reasons:
    – it is cheap and easy to come by.
    – paper is considered to have less dust than conventional bedding which makes it an excellent choice for animals who may suffer from allergies
    – Shredded paper has the same insulation qualities as wood shavings and straw.
    – It keeps the animal cleaner than other bedding products.
    – Shredded paper is also absorbent, lightweight and easy to store.
    Although shredded paper has great bedding qualities it isn’t recommended for smaller animals who may eat it as the ink could be toxic.
  • If you don’t have animals or the need for shredded paper, you can sometimes donate it to animal shelters so they can use it as bedding or litter. Before donating it though make sure that they will need it and will accept it.
    You can use shredded paper as a filler for gift bags.
  • Shredded paper can be used as mulch under raised flowerbeds or it can be added to your compost pile.
  • Loosely stuffing empty toilet paper rolls or kitchen rolls can make great kindling or fire starters.

How long does it take for paper to decompose?

One of the best uses for shredded paper is indeed compost. Not only is the decomposition of paper a relatively quick process, taking around 4 to 5 weeks, it also provides the soil with a great source of carbon which is a vital component for your compost pile.

When you add shredded paper to your compost bins, it will actually compost more quickly than eggshells and some vegetable matter. Adding shredded paper to soil also help the soil retain moisture, wicking moisture away from decomposing organic substances and material.

Lastly, shredded appears helps bulk up the volume of your soil, ensuring that you will get a larger finished quantity of compost in your composting bin.

can you recycle shredded paper in the UK?


Can you recycle shredded paper UK? The answer to this is really yes and no. No, you can’t just add it to your regular recycling bins in the same way that you do glass and bottles. When you do so, you will cause no end of problems for your local sorting plant. Shredded paper can be added to a special recycling collection, depending on your local council, and can also be taken to your local household recycling plant. However, there is no need to take shredded paper any further away from your home or back garden. Use your shredded paper for packing or add it to your compost bin and watch in amazement at how your shredded paper composts quicker than your vegetable waste.