Paper shredders create waste. They shred paper, which isn't usually recycled, and they end up in landfill themselves as Ewaste. For this year's Recycling Week, we spoke to some industry experts to find out how to avoid paper shredder waste.
Re.group operates Material Recovery Facilities in Canberra and around Australia. Their facilities process household waste and recycling. Re.group's Chief Development Officer, Garth Lamb, explained the problems caused by loose shredded paper from home shredders. "Shredded paper in the ‘yellow bin’ creates a nightmare for recycling facilities,’ said Garth. “Unlike a whole sheet of paper which is easily recycled, shredded paper falls through the equipment and unfortunately it often ends up going to waste. We can’t accept shredded paper in the ‘yellow bin,’ so there is a role for specialist services that ensure it is still recycled.”
Paper shredder appliances also cause environmental problems. Jo Clay, CEO of Send and Shred, explained why. "Like a lot of modern appliances, home shredders aren't built to last. They definitely can't go into your 'yellow bin' for recycling and we haven't found any other recycling options for them in Australia. We estimate that around 1.5 million home shredders are sent to landfill every year."
What can you do to avoid this waste?
1. Use a secure shredding service instead of shredding your own. Choose a service that recycles, like Send and Shred for households and small offices or Shred-X for big businesses.
2. Reduce your paper waste. Unsubscribe yourself from mailing lists if you don't read what they send. Print out what you need for security, client preference or easy reading, but don't print everything out of habit.
3. If you decide to buy a paper shredder, pick a good quality one that will last. Fewer replacements mean less Ewaste in landfill.
4. If you shred at work, check that your waste & recycling company processes the shredded paper. Household recycling collections usually can't process shredded paper, but commercial recycling collections often can.
5. If you shred at home, don't put loose shredded paper in your household 'yellow' recycling bin. Check with your local council to find a better option. Your council might advise you to home compost the shredded paper, put it through your worm farm or seal it into a paper envelope and then put it into your recycling bin. Different options work in different places because there are different recycling facilities and collection arrangements. That's why you need to check with your local authorities to find out what works in your area.