It's Tax Time! How Do I Shred and Recycle Confidential Documents?

It’s Tax Time! How Do I Shred and Recycle Confidential Documents?

  • Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. You can reach her at 630-208-3841 or
  • (SIDE NOTE TO LOCAL MEDIA: Please feel free to recycle this article.)


It’s tax time! And with it comes a need for people to recycle documents — many of them confidential — in a way that’s both secure and environmentally correct.

How do you do that? Please take a look at this article. As we’ve said in past articles, it’s the quality of our recycling, not just the quantity, that makes a difference, and this article contains a lot of information you might find surprising.

Q: I Have a Stack of Old Tax Records and Other Documents With Confidential Information on Them. What Should I Do With Them?

A: I get a lot of calls about what to do with paper that has already been shredded in a home office shredder, and also where to take large quantities of documents to be shredded.

Q: What Is Considered Confidential?

A: First of all, I’d like to clarify the difference between confidential and not confidential. Confidential information such as account numbers and details and social security numbers should be kept secure and destroyed by shredding or other document destruction processes.

However, information like name, address, and phone numbers are not considered confidential as they can be found in phone directories or in common records. Junk mail does not contain confidential information. Magazines with your name and address are not confidential. Those kinds of information do not need to be shredded, and including them in free events adds undue cost to the program manager. Please recycle these sorts of materials in your curbside recycling container.

Q: What Paper Should Be Shredded at Home?

A: If you have a small desk-side shredder at home and have already done the deed, then the proper way to assure that it is recycled is to place it in a paper grocery bag, roll the top over to seal the bag and staple once or tape lightly but securely. Then write “SHREDDED PAPER” clearly on both sides of the bag with a sharpie, and place it in your curbside recycling bin for collection.

Please do not place the shredded paper in the bin loose as it will become a confetti-like nuisance that is impossible to recapture at the sorting facility, inevitably ending up stuck to everything as a contaminate to the different material streams.

Also please do not place it in a clear plastic bag, as used to be the instruction, because plastic bags just do not work at the sorting facilities, creating all sorts of problems.

Q: Are There Document Shredding Services for Residential Documents?

A: If you just have a glut of old tax papers and checkbook stubs that you need to get rid of in a safe and environmentally friendly way, then use the following options to do so.

  1. Try calling your bank to see if they have any shredding events coming up. They often do have free events at some point in the year for their customers.
  2. RockTenn/WestRock, a paper packaging manufacturer in Aurora, offers a free and unlimited document destruction service on certain days of the week. They are located at 1601 E. Mountain St., Aurora, IL 60505. For more information call 630-898-4231 or email
  3. Free residential document shredding will be offered periodically in conjunction with the 2016 Electronics and Books Recycling Events, at 540 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, IL 60174. The 2016 shredding dates are 8 a.m. to noon on the following Saturdays: April 9, June 11, Nov. 12.

What You Need to Know About Recycling Events

  • This service provides on-site shredding trucks, where you can watch your documents being shredded if you wish.
  • This is for residential material only, not for businesses (see list below for business service), thank you.
  • Quantity limit is four boxes (12- inches width by 16 inches deep by 10 inches height) or bags of equivalent size.
  • Staples, paperclips, spiral bindings, file folders without metal, and cellophane envelope windows are fine to leave in.
  • Please REMOVE all binder clips, three-ring plastic binders and any larger metal pieces.
  • Please do not bring periodicals, magazines, and other paper that does not contain confidential information. Those materials can go in your household recycling bin. See below for more info.

Q: Are There Document Destruction Services for Businesses?

A: If you are looking for a way to have documents from your business shredded, you will likely have to contract for that service because the above free Kane County events are for residents only. Rock Tenn in Aurora does offer a free option for businesses because they make recycled paper out of the paper you bring! Here is a list of companies that offer shredding services in this area.

  • ATR — Advanced Technology Recycler: 815-844-7779
  • Groot — Accurate Document Destruction: 800-407-4733
  • Iron Mountain — 800-899-4766
  • Life Storage Centers of Aurora — 630-618-2161
  • ​My Shredding Service, Geneva — 248-387-9395
  • RockTenn, Aurora (free service) — 630-898-4231
  • ShredIt — 708-345-8392​
  • Shred Nations — 630-299-4886

Note: This list is not all inclusive, nor does Kane County promote any of these businesses above others. It is simply a list of options for confidential document shredding services, meant to serve as a helpful guide.

When you follow the recycling guidelines you are helping to keep the program successful. Please refer to the Recycling Guidelines on the website for a more detailed list of what is and what is not recyclable in your curbside cart.

Thanks for all that you do to Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

Read More

Read More Recycling Tips!

About Kane County Recycles

The Kane County Recycles office manages recycling programs for electronics, books, hazardous materials, and other hard-to-recycle materials, and promotes best practices for household recycling, commercial business recycling, and composting. This office oversees recycling-related information and community outreach initiatives, oversees the annual licensing of Waste and Recycling Haulers, provides backyard compost bins, and implements the Kane County Solid Waste Plan. The office oversees the Recycling and Hauler Licensing Ordinance which requires commercial businesses and multi-family residences to recycle, and provides the provisions for hauler licensing and reporting.

For all you ever needed to know about recycling in Kane County see the Kane County Recycles webpage and also sign up here to receive an electronic copy of the new Green Guide each spring.