Shredding Confidential Materials

shredded paper with stack of file folders containing paper Shredded paper cannot be recycled in your recycle cart at home. The pieces of paper are too small to sort. They create confetti-like litter at the Recycling Center.

Home shredding also cannot be placed in your yard waste cart. Too much material shredded at home contains plastic, which cannot go in compost. People often shred credit cards, envelopes with plastic windows, and shiny paper. These all have plastic. Throw away material you have shredded at home.
Instead of shredding paper at home, attend a free shred event or use paid services. When you shred with a professional company, the paper can be recycled. That's because it doesn't need to be sorted from other recycling.

Did you know? Shredded paper is too small to recycle in your cart. Shred at events instead of at home!

Shredding Events and Services

We host periodic shredding events. See our recycling event calendar.

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Community shred events are listed on the Washington Attorney General's website.

Paid shredding service is available through many office supply stores, such as Staples, Office Depot and UPS.

Please Only Shred What You Need

Shredded paper has limited uses. Shredding shortens the length of the paper fibers. Short paper fibers can only be used to make lower quality paper products like tissue or bath products. Those products cannot be recycled -- that means the paper can be reused fewer times.

We encourage you to shred only what you need:

  • Shred only documents that contain personally identifiable information.
  • Shred only the portion that contains personal information. Remove inserts from envelopes and recycle the envelope. Usually only some of the pages in a packet have sensitive information. Pull out only those pages to shred, and recycle the rest.
  • Shred only the part of the paper that contains personal information. Tear off the portion with your personal information to shred, and recycle the rest of the paper.
  • Do not shred any coated (shiny) paper or plastic.