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Shredded Paper Recycling: Where Do Shredded Documents Go?

Posted November 25, 2014 by Jenny Green

According to the government-funded Recycle Now initiative, the UK uses about 12.5 million tonnes of paper each year and some 67% of the paper and cardboard used in the UK is recycled.


But recycling and ‘going green’ doesn’t mean an organisation has to compromise on security. By adopting a policy of environmental sustainability and privacy protection, your place of work can have the best of both worlds.

It is true that unsecured paper recycling bins in an office are an easy target for fraudsters to steal confidential and personal data and information.  However, if a secure shredding and recycling process is implemented, this provides a secure chain of custody meaning an organisation can fulfil its environmental duty of care obligations at the same time.

So, you have your secure, locked paper consoles in place. But where do your documents go and what happens to them once they are destroyed?  Are they disposed of in an eco-friendly manner to ensure the chain of environmental good practice is carried through to the end of the process?

In a typical secure shredded paper recycling process, the secure consoles are collected and emptied on a regularly scheduled basis by security-vetted staff, and all confidential documents are either shredded on site, or in a secure location.  The entire process is securely tracked via a hand-held scanning device and a Certificate of Destruction is issued for every service, providing a complete audit trail for the customer.  All shredded paper is recycled, and it improves the paper recycling process because of the high levels of good quality white office paper and minimal contaminants (particularly plastics) mixed in with the shredded paper.

The shredded paper is then baled and transported directly to a paper mill for recycling.  At the mill, the fibres of the shredded paper are separated and made into pulp.  The pulp is then put through a screening process that filters out any impurities and prepares it for the removal of printing ink.  Finally, this pulp is mixed with fresh pulp to manufacture new paper products.

This recycling process can dramatically reduce the environmental impact of corporate organisations, and the benefits are invaluable.  Some estimates indicate that each tonne of paper that is recycled saves:

  • 2.7 cubic metres of landfill space (plus the pollution caused by rotting paper waste in a landfill give off toxic greenhouse gases)
  • 17 trees which will absorb 113kgs of carbon dioxide each year
  • 1,400 litres of oil
  • 4,100 kilowatts of energy
  • 26,500 litres of water

For more information on how to make your organisation ‘greener’ and to ensure environmental good practice, here are some practical tips.

Why not share your own green tips by joining in the conversation with Shred-it on Twitter @Shredit_UK.

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