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How Do You Recycle Shredded Paper?

Is shredded paper recyclable? 

Yes! Shredded paper is recyclable. Check your local guidelines to see if it’s accepted in your area.

What should I shred? 

Always think before you shred. Shredded paper is less likely to be recycled than sheets of paper because the small shreds of paper can get lost in collection and processing. The smaller the paper is, the less likely it is to get recycled. 

A good rule of thumb is to only shred paper containing sensitive information. Here are some examples of things that should be shredded: 

  • Employee pay stubs 

  • Bank statements 

  • Investment transactions 

  • Pre-approved credit card applications 

  • Medical records  

  • Tax forms 

  • Anything with your social security number 

  • Anything with your credit card number 

What should I not shred? 

Anything that doesn’t contain sensitive information should not be shredded. The items below are examples of things that should be recycled normally: 

  • Mail 

  • Folders 

  • Greeting cards 

  • Books 

  • Magazines 

How do I recycle shredded paper? 

First, put the shreds in a paper bag or cardboard box. Staple or tape it shut and recycle it in your curbside recycling bin. 

Putting the shredded paper in a paper bag or box makes it more likely that it will be recycled. Loose paper shreds can blow around when they’re being collected or make a mess when being processed at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). 

Why should I recycle the paper I don’t shred? 

Recycled paper fibers can be reused 5 to 7 times to make new paper and cardboard products. The more paper you recycle, the more waste stays out of landfills, instead getting turned into things like container board, boxboard and newsprint.  

If you only shred paper with sensitive information, you can protect your privacy while extending the useful life of paper. 

Download Our 'Think Before You Shred' Infographic

Download this infographic as a reminder to think before you shred.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recyclable resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper