Recycling Q&A: Can I Put Shredded Paper in My Curbside Recycling? (Sadly, No)
- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of recycling tips from Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our question this week is whether shredded paper can be recycled in the curbside recycling program. As was the case in our Q&A story on frozen-food boxes, the answer sadly is “no.”
This article explains why that is, and offers alternatives and best practices.
Shredded Paper Recycling Question
What should we do to recycle paper shredded in our paper shredder at home?
Shredded Paper Recycling Answer
Please do not place shredded paper in the recycling, bagged or not. None of the waste haulers want it pre-shredded paper in the recycling mix any more. It is just too problematic at the sorting facilities, unfortunately.
They do not want any plastic bags in the recycling, full or empty, period, so you can’t put it in a plastic bag. It used to be OK to put shredded paper in a paper bag and label it, “SHREDDED PAPER,” but that’s no longer the case.
Facility operators are now asking that we keep shredded paper out of the stream altogether because it turns to literal confetti and contaminates all other material streams. In other words, it gets in where it shouldn’t and is nearly impossible to capture and direct into the paper bales.
- Tear off the confidential portion of the given document and shred that. Recycle the rest of the sheet of paper whole in your curbside cart.
- Take part in the shredding events that the county puts on three times a year. See 2018 dates by clicking here. We do not generally invite people to bring shredded paper, but we will take it if you bring it. Instead, bring your pieces of paper whole, and let us do the shredding onsite for you! The paper definitely gets recycled at the end of this process.
- If you have already shredded your documents, take bags of shredded paper to WestRock Paper Recycler at 417 S. 37th Ave., St. Charles, IL 60174. The phone number is 630-443-3538, and hours are 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The paper will get recycled.
- Compost shredded paper at home in a backyard compost bin.
- Or trash it. I do not like this answer, but it is necessary to omit shredded paper from curbside recycling to keep the system operating as efficiently as possible.
FREE Kane County SHREDDING EVENTS
FOR KANE COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY
When: 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, April 14, July 14 and Nov. 10, 2018
Where: 540 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, IL 60174
- 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-inch width by 16-inch depth by 10-inch height) or bags of equivalent size.
- Staples, paperclips, spiral bindings, file folders without metal, and 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, junk mail, or other paper that does not contain confidential information. Those materials can go in your household recycling bin.
- Please note that we will receive documents for shredding only until the trucks are full.
Thank you for your care!
— Jennifer Jarland, Kane County recycling program coordinator
- Recycling Q&A: Can I Recycle Boxes For Frozen Foods? (Sadly, No!)
- Recycling Q&A: Should We Put Caps on Containers? Household Batteries On The Curb?
- Recycling Q&A: Unscrewing the Mystery of Mason Jars And Metal Lids
- Recycling Q&A: Little Bits of Paper? Envelope Windows? Jam Jars With Metal Lids?
- Recycling Q&A: Why Can’t I Put Recyclables In Plastic Garbage Bags?