Photograph of Shredded document Paper - All Source

15 Aug Shred Everything, Recycle Everything

Document security and confidentiality is top of mind for all professionals and business owners. It is important to protect  your own information and your customer information. Implementing a “Shred Everything, Recycle Everything” mandate is a great way  to protect confidential information and benefit the environment.   Shredding paper has a substantial impact on the environment. The Danish Topic Centre on Waste and the Technical University of Denmark conducted 55 life-cycle analyses. They found in 83% of recycling scenarios, recycling was better for the environment than traditional methods of burying or burning waste.

Fun Fact: every ton of paper recycled saves over 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space. In 2014 the US recovered over 51 million tons of paper; that is 1.68 Billion cubic yards of landfill space saved. Post shredding, paper is recycled and can be used to make recycled paper and recycled paper products such as molded pulp packaging.

The benefits are not limited to reducing waste in the landfill. The environmental benefit of “Shred Everything, Recycle Everything” ranges from reducing energy consumption, reducing water and air pollution, and forest conservation.

Energy Conservation

When paper is recycled, energy consumption is reduced. Paper made with virgin pulp will use more energy compared to that made with recycled pulp. Each ton of recycled newspaper saves about four barrels of oil: the energy required to heat and air condition a home for 6 months.

Water Conservation

In addition to the energy savings recycled paper also contributes to water conservation.  Water is used in the process of manufacturing virgin paper as well as in the recycling process. According to Imagine All the Water it takes 3 gallons of water to make one sheet of paper.  Some of that water comes from the water required to grow the tree and some is used in the actual production process. Recycling one ton of paper saves as much as 7000 gallons of water.

Forest Conservation

Improvements have been made in forest conservation: 35% of felled trees are used in paper production. Trees are now being specifically grown for pulp production (accounting for 16% of world pulp production). However, 9% of trees used for virgin paper production come from old growth forests. The other 75% of un-recycled pulp comes from second and third generation forests. Reforestation is practiced by most pulp mill operators to ensure there will be trees for future harvest.

Reducing Water and Air Pollution

Recycling paper results in less water and air pollution than making virgin paper. How much less?  35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution according to the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency).

 

So, what can we do to encourage the practice to shred everything and recycle everything?  A lot of the reason people don’t recycle is convenience.  Having the right container in the right place will encourage people to put their paper in the right place.  Having a container at each desk or in each work area (along with other waste containers) will not only increase compliance on making sure sensitive information is securely disposed of it will also contribute to the environmental conservation efforts.