Update: This Sustainability Sam Q&A was revised on Feb. 24, 2023, with current City of Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling guidance.
I have a recycling question I haven’t been able to answer with the recycling guide. Can shredded paper be recycled? What I’ve done in the past is put the shredded paper in a paper grocery bag, stapled the top shut, and written “shredded paper” on the outside. I got that guidance from somewhere, but maybe a different city I lived in!
What’s the rule in Minneapolis?
Hi, Amelia –
Thank you for your question on the best way to dispose of shredded paper!
The short answer is yes, it is recyclable. However, when that paper bag of shredded paper gets dumped into the trucks with other recyclables, it often tears open as it gets jostled and squashed in the truck, contaminating other recyclables. Shredded paper can create quite a mess at the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) and it is unlikely a bag of shredded paper will make it through the sorting process in its entirety.
Another thing to consider when you shred paper is that it cuts the paper fibers and reduces the number of times it can be recycled. Paper fibers can be recycled approximately 7 times before they become too short. Here are two options for disposal of paper with personal information on it to consider:
1. Cut off or tear off any personally identifying information such as your name, address, account number, etc. Then, the remainder of the document/sheet of paper can still be recycled.
2. If you must shred paper, reuse it for packing material or small pet bedding (remove all staples, of course).
3. Use a professional paper shredding service. This creates a single-stream of shredded paper for recycling vs. a mixed stream of recyclables that has to be sorted. Paper shredding companies handle their own contracts for disposal and/or recycling of the shredded paper they collect.