April 20, 2023

How a secure recycling process can reduce your carbon footprint

This year’s Earth Day theme, “Invest In Our Planet” encourages all of us to play our part in protecting the environment. At Shred-it, we recognise everyone, everywhere is accountable – including us. 

To mark the day, we are reaffirming our green commitments to minimise our environmental footprint and help conserve resources. One of the ways we do this is through supporting the circular economy, for example through our secure information destruction solutions. This means businesses don’t need to compromise on either protecting confidential data or helping to reach their own sustainability goals.

So how does this help the wider cause? Offices generate a large volume of paper documents everyday that is needed to help their operations run smoothly– but many businesses face a security challenge when it comes to recycling. That’s because incorrect disposal of confidential files and other documents can create a significant information security risk, as well as the issues that come with regulatory compliance and reputation. But there is a way to fully recycle confidential paper waste in a secure, fully compliant way that’s also green and sustainable. 

Shred-it recycles 100% of securely shredded paper to provide a valuable source of paper for recycling into high-demand products. As a Shred-it customer you can also request Destruction and Environmental Certificates containing data that not only assist in demonstrating an audit trail for compliance but also help you understand how partnering with us can reduce your business’ carbon footprint.

This Earth Day, services such as this really do mean we can all play our part in protecting the environment.

Securely and sustainably recycling office waste

So, how do confidential files go from trash to toilet paper? Here, we lift the lid on our six-stage recycling process that gives an insight into what happens to our customers’ paper after its secure disposal – and the environmental impact of that waste:

Firstly, customers drop confidential documents into a secure, locked container. The paper is stored safely, in a tamper proof compartment ready for our trained and background screened team members to collect – either on a one-off or more regular basis.

Containers are then emptied and securely transported to our own service centres where the confidential documents are destroyed using industrial-grade, cross-cut shredders. These transform the paper documents into small confetti pieces. At this point, customers are issued with a certificate of destruction which helps demonstrate an audit trail for compliance with local regulations including GDPR. But this isn’t the end of the journey for the securely -destroyed documents.

Shredded paper is then transported to a paper mill for recycling. Pulp is produced as the fibres of the shredded paper are separated and put through a screening process. This filters out impurities and prepares it for the removal of printing ink.

Newly recycled pulp is then mixed with fresh pulp to manufacture new, high demand paper products we may all use on a daily basis.

And that’s it. In a fully, secure, compliant way, your office waste paper is now a new product.  

Positively impacting the environment

Sustainability is fast becoming a top priority for more and more businesses – values that Shred-it shares. With the huge environmental impact of office paper, recycling each and every sheet can have a massive impact. It can help to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy and water use and divert materials away from landfill sites.

Although we celebrate it, Earth Day is not just one day at Shred-it. All year, we deliver solutions and drive innovations that help protect the environment, people and public health. 

Partnering with our customers in 2022, we were able to shred and recycle 1 billion pounds of paper1 — safeguarding both our customers’ confidential information and the environment. As well as the obvious environmental businesses, recycling paper waste can go a long way to improving an organisation’s carbon footprint and reaching their sustainability goals and at zero cost to information security.

To learn more about Shred-it’s recycling processes and how we can help you meet your environmental goals without compromising information security, download our Stericycle Corporate Responsibility Report here, and contact us today.


1: Stericycle global data, 2022