From Paper to Pulp: The Lifecycle of Shredded Documents

At Shred Station, we recycle 100% of the paper we shred at UK-based paper mills. So, where do your confidential documents end up?

The source

We collect paperwork (and many other materials) for shredding across the UK. Our fleet of over 100 vehicles and 3 large destruction facilities in Harlow, Norwich and Manchester means we process over 60,000 tonnes of paper for shredding each year – all of which we recycle. This includes standard office paper, recycled paper, high gsm paper for luxury stationery, art paper, books, magazines, kraft paper and much more.

Image of shredded paper at a shredding depot.

The shredding

We can shred paper on-site at our customers’ premises using industrial shredders that are secured within our specialist shredding vehicles. We also collect paper for off-site shredding which takes place at our destruction facilities. With both of these options, the paperwork is commingled together within our shredding and baling process. Once shredded, this paper is compressed into large 600-700kg bales. These bales can be used for recycling.

Image of large paper bales, ready for recycling.

The recycling

We have positive relationships with several UK paper mills, giving us recycling options and contingencies if, for example, one of the paper mills we supply were to close. Nothing we shred goes to landfill, and 100% of our customer’s shredded paper is recycled in the UK.

When our shredded paper arrives at these recycling mills, it is placed into a large vat of water and some chemicals. This helps to break the paper down, creating a paper pulp. It is during this stage that items like plastic wallets and staples are skimmed off with screens and removed. Any removed non-paper material is incinerated at Energy from Waste facilities. The wet paper pulp is then sprayed onto large mesh screens and pressed to remove excess water. The paper pulp is then properly dried, forming large sheets of recycled paper. This paper can be used to create a whole range of new materials!

Image of paper reel at industrial paper mill
The new materials

Recycled paper fibres can be used to create a whole range of different paper products. This includes everything from newspapers to recycled printer paper, to toilet tissue and even sanitary products. When you do your next big shop, you may even pick up some products that contain fibres of your old confidential documents!

Image of shopping cart in stationery aisle.

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