Single Stream Recycling and Shredded Paper; Not Perfect Together

As we become more conscious of our personal information security, shredding paper before putting it out for recycling is becoming more common place. Normally, shredded paper can easily be recycled since historic recycling programs were dual stream in design; paper in one stream, commingled cans and bottles in another.

recycling-shredded-paperWith more and more programs going to a single stream system; paper, cans and bottles together, we are facing the loss of shredded paper recycling in curbside programs. Simply stated, the screening mechanisms that are used in single stream plants treat the shredded paper as garbage as it falls through the screens.

Since more and more programs are moving to single stream recycling, we will lose more of the paper resource. Or, we will be forced to initiate a separate collection for shredded paper which would defeat the entire point of single stream convenience.

It seems that every time we make another accommodation to our society of convenience, we do yet more damage to our recycling and environmental programs.

Single stream recycling is clearly not a panacea.

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One comment

  1. Dom says:

    Good article.
    As someone who has moved from a dual stream community to a single-stream community the change is hard getting use to. What makes it worse is knowing the issues with single stream.
    I still store our recycling dual stream and place it out with the fiber on top of the cans and bottles – silly maybe but it’s my contribution to lower residue at the IPF. As for shredded paper – the county says to put it in a clear plastic bag – which you buy where? – I use a white plastic bag and, using magic marker, write on it SHREDDED.

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