How is our paper recycled?
For Recycling Week, we took a film tour of our high-security factory so you can find what happens after you lodge your Send and Shred bag.
Australia Post securely transports bags to our Locked Box, where they're collected and taken to our shred. We have a secure chain-of-custody and all staff are police-vetted. The factory itself has alarms, 24 hour CCTV monitoring and holds both ASIO T4 clearance and AAA NAID certification.
At the factory, bags go through the industrial grinder, which rips the paper apart into small pieces. A home shredder cuts paper fibres, but our grinder rips them apart, which destroys the text but keeps the fibres intact. "This preserves the fibres for high-grade recycling," said Send and Shred CEO, Jo Clay. "Paper moves down the recycling chain each time it is processed. It finally becomes toilet paper, at which point it can't be recycled any more. Preserving the pulp fibres means we keep it in circulation much longer."
After being ripped apart, the pieces are blended together, compressed and baled. They are shipped to an Australian pulp mill, where they're turned back into new paper products.
China recently stopped accepting Australian mixed recycling. What does this mean for Send and Shred?
"We haven't been affected by China's waste ban," said Jo. "That ban only affects low-grade mixed recycling. We've set up a careful system which results in good-quality paper pulp. This is a high-demand commodity that will be recycled again and again. We don't even need to export it overseas, we use an Australian pulp mill."
The Materials Recovery Facility processes household recycling. What do they think of shredded paper?
"The Materials Recovery Facility says shredded paper is 'dreaded paper'," said Jo. "Like most household recycling facilities around Australia, they can't process it. Neither machinery nor staff can sort out shredded paper and it gets tangled up, causes a big headache at the plant and then goes to landfill."
"Household recycling facilities are built to handle standard household recyclables, like whole pages and cardboard packaging," Jo said. "Once it's shredded, it's waste."