CCDES is a member of the Illinois Recycling Contamination Task Force, a group that addresses pressing recycling issues throughout the state. To answer specific recycling questions, the task force has launched the Dirty Dozen Campaign.

While shredded paper used to be allowed in recycling carts, it isn’t any more. Shredded paper does not belong in your curbside recycling bin.

Shredded paper is too small to sort—the pieces fall through the cracks of the sorting machines, stick to the belts and end up all over the floor and in every other material stream as a contaminate.

So, what can you do with it?

  • Shred judiciously.

Firstly, please avoid shredding when possible because it damages the potential for recycling. Best practice if you want to shred your own confidential material is to tear off the portion of the page that contains the confidential information and shred that. Then recycle the rest of the sheet – intact– in your curbside recycling program.

Also, do not shred non-confidential material. Junk mail, magazines, greeting cards, folders and other mail are not usually considered confidential. Recycle them whole in your curbside bin. Confidential materials that you should shred include bank statements, tax or medical records, pre-approved credit card applications and anything with your social security number on it.

  • Attend a shredding event or drop-off location.

Instead of shredding your documents at home, save the time and hassle and find a shredding event in your area, where confidential documents will be shredded onsite, and the paper recycled. You might try calling your bank to see if they have a free yearly shredding event for their customers; they sometimes do. Check with your municipality for special events and drop off locations.

  • Trash it.

If none of the above solutions work for you, then you may throw your shredded paper in the trash, but PLEASE place it in a plastic bag tied tightly closed so it does not blow all over and create a litter issue.


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