The Document Shredding Process: What Happens After Your Documents Get Shredded?

Posted on Wed, 12/12/2018
What happens to your shredded documents

Perhaps you’ve got a sizable amount of documents after cleaning out your home office. Or maybe your company has a mountain of paperwork to dispose of at the office or in a storage facility. Either way, to get rid of sensitive documents in a safe and efficient manner, they need to be shredded. 

Your options include dropping the documents off or having them picked up by a company like Paper Tiger that offers shredding/document destruction solutions, or you may schedule to have a company like ours come to you for mobile shredding. Either way, the result is the same: a huge pile of confetti-like strips of paper. 

Ever wonder what happens to those documents after they’re shredded? Shredding documents using a professional company like Paper Tiger is beneficial in more ways than one. First, you get peace of mind knowing that your documents are being disposed of in a manner that keeps your data safe. Second, you can feel good knowing that all your paperwork won’t end up in a landfill. The reason: Once the shredding is done, the paper gets recycled. Here’s how it works.

The Document Shredding Process

Check out the “How We Work” slideshow on our home page. Once we receive your documents, we move them to a secure shred room where they’re emptied out onto a sorting table before being fed into an industrial-sized shredder. Once everything is securely shredded, it’s compressed into large bales. The same thing happens with paper that’s fed into one of our mobile, truck-mounted shredders. They can shred up to 10,000 pounds per load.

Those large bales are important; they keep the paper intact so they can be transported to a paper mill for recycling. This is the reason why offices and private individuals can’t shred paperwork at home and empty it into their recycling container for recycling; the strips of paper become mixed with other items and are impossible to separate.

On to the Paper Mill

Each truckload (carrying 22 tons of paper) that we send to the paper mill saves 374 trees, 8,360 gallons of oil, 66 cubic yards of landfill space, 88,000 kilowatts of energy, and 154,000 gallons of water as a result of being recycled. How does that happen? 

First, the paper is chemically washed and heated. This process helps to remove any sort of ink or glue that’s present. Next, it’s put into a vat and mixed with water. This creates sort of a paper “slurry” that readies it to be used for a variety of applications. 

Different products can be added to this slurry that can turn it into everyday office paper, newspaper, or even cardboard. Hydrogen peroxide and other whitening agents may be added in to bleach the paper, or dyes can be added for colored paper products. If the final result will be brown paper pulp (which is used to make brown paper towels, for instance), then the pulp won’t be bleached or dyed. 

Finally, the paper slurry is sprayed onto conveyor belts and passed over rollers to remove any excess water. It will move through steam-heated rollers to speed along the drying process before being spun onto large rolls. The ends of each roll will be trimmed (with the trimmings tossed back into the slurry to make another batch of pulp) and the rolls are ultimately sold to manufacturers to be used for paper products.

What Kinds of Products Are Made of Recycled Paper?

Now you know how your shredded paper gets recycled. Curious what kinds of products it is used for? The next time you go to the supermarket, warehouse club or office supply store and look at the items on the shelves, know that your recycled documents may have found their way into paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, magazines and newspapers, office paper, cardboard, or even the greeting cards you send to family and friends. 

Not only is shredding an excellent document solution to free up space and get rid of sensitive paperwork... it’s a great way to take care of Mother Earth.