The Environmental Benefits of Professional Shredding Services

Are you thinking about your carbon footprint? 

Although Earth Day doesn’t fall until April, it’s never too late to start thinking about what’s happening to all that paper your business generates. Today, paper makes up over a quarter of our landfill sites, and the problem isn’t getting any better. 

So, it may make you wonder where professional shredding services come in. The truth is most of their clients are more concerned with security and compliance than green issues, but it may surprise you that there are some pretty big green benefits to getting rid of your paper waste in this way. 

Professional Shredders Also Recycle Your Paper! 

Hey, it’s not just households and businesses that have to worry about their carbon footprints. Waste disposal experts are just a part of confronting the climate crisis, just like anyone else. 

That’s why most professional shredding services worth their salt will also have a comprehensive recycling policy. This is critical because it means you know exactly where your paper goes after it leaves your building. 

Lower Your Carbon Footprint 

Let’s start with the obvious. Paper production contributes a vast amount of carbon to an already overloaded atmosphere. 

The latest research shows that each metric ton of paper (around 200,000 sheets) contributes 0.6 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. It soon adds up, which is why we should all focus on reducing how much virgin paper we use. 

Working with a green shredding service guarantees that your paper isn’t dumped but recycled and reused. Yes, the recycling process still contributes carbon to the atmosphere, but it’s a fraction of what it would be if new trees had to be cut down and sent to the paper mills. 

And Reduce Your Methane Footprint 

Everyone talks about our carbon footprints, but did you ever stop to think about your methane footprint? Methane is present in far more things than cow farts, and paper is one of them. 

Scientists believe methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled over the last 200 years. Plus, they estimate that up to 30% of climate warming comes from methane alone. 

What does this have to do with paper? Paper in landfills releases methane as it decomposes. Since methane is an estimated 23 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide, ensuring your paper is recycled through a professional shredding service keeps your waste out of landfills. 

Remake Your Paper Into Something New 

Paper, whole or shredded, is primed to be turned into something new. The sad thing is that only 65% of paper is, which is a lot of material that goes to waste. 

Professional shredding services often have agreements with specific recycling plants, allowing waste to be recycled and put back into production. The paper you shred today could become newsprint, packaging materials, and tissue paper tomorrow. 

Plus, since these services can come to you to collect your waste, you can put your paper recycling program on autopilot without lifting a finger. 

Save Energy, Water, and Emissions 

Think bigger. The benefits of recycling via professional shredding services don’t just extend to the recycling process itself. 

Every piece of paper that’s recycled means that a piece of new paper doesn’t have to be produced. Paper mills represent a massive amount of emissions, contributing around 2% of the world’s overall emissions. While this might not sound like much, it’s almost the same as global aviation. 

To provide some context, it takes 17,000 gallons of water per ton of paper. Even the most efficient paper mills still need 4,500 gallons. That’s not to mention the harmful chemicals like chlorine and sulphur dioxide released during virgin paper production, which also present risks to human health. 

 Whenever you use professional shredding services, you indirectly reduce demand for virgin paper, thus helping the environment. 

Preserve the World’s Forests 

The world’s forests are the lungs of the world. Without the woods and the trees, we wouldn’t have the breathable atmosphere that allows us to survive. Deforestation is a serious issue that influences our ability to live on this planet. 

 Unfortunately, the U.S. uses 68 million trees every year to produce paper, equivalent to around three-and-a-half trees per American. Although the industry has tried to reduce this number, paper usage is still a major problem for everybody. 

Opting for paper shredding in San Francisco shows that you care about the fate of the world’s forests. The paper that is recycled means a tree that isn’t cut down to make more. 

Recycling 2,000 lbs of paper would save 17 trees, two barrels of oil, and up to 4,100 kilowatts of energy (enough to power the average home for six months). 

While these numbers may appear astronomical, let’s put them into perspective. The average U.S. office worker will use 10,000 sheets of copy paper annually, putting us head and shoulders above practically every country. On average, it takes just 200,000 sheets of paper to make 2,000 lbs of paper, meaning a business of just 20 could save all of the above by using professional shredding services that recycle. 

Remember, even if you’re buying virgin paper from a supplier that claims to plant new trees, it takes decades for a new tree to grow, so if we cause too much damage now, we risk destroying the future. 

Shredding Services Can Also Recycle e-Waste 

It’s no secret that businesses have been going digital over the last decade. But while moving from paper to digital is one of the best things you can do for the environment, it comes with its pitfalls. Electronic waste also has a substantial environmental footprint. 

Shredding services dispose of paper, but they can also remove and dispose of your electronics securely. Just like paper, electronic waste also has a significant carbon footprint. 

 For example, hard drives contain various precious metals, including gold, silver, and copper. All these metals can be recovered and reused. On the other hand, modern hard drives contain many harmful pollutants, including lead, arsenic, and mercury, which are all well-known poisonous to humans and animals. 

Furthermore, the electric casing can be reused instead of rotting for centuries within a hole in the ground. 

Some shredding services will also take away larger electronics, including full-size PCs. Like hard drives, they contain the same environmentally toxic elements as hard drives. 

Every day, we throw out over 350,000 cell phones and 120,000 laptops, ensuring that we top the leaderboard as the world’s biggest producer of e-waste. And the sad thing is we don’t even dump it into American holes. We often send our electronic waste to developing countries, where it’s left to break down over generations. 

Destroy Demand for New Products 

Recycling is the hallmark of professional shredding’s environmental benefits. But recycling has a knock-on effect on industries globally. 

Whenever you work with a green shredding service, you steadily chip away at the demand for new products. Whether that’s another ton of paper or a perpetual electronics production line, recycling helps to dent demand. 

Unfortunately, due to our position as the world’s consumer of, well, just about everything, it’s up to us to be the changemakers, and it starts at home. 

A Teachable Moment 

The fact is not everyone is aware of the impact their lives have on the environment. Likewise, many see sustainability policies as useful but need to understand why. 

Working with a professional shredding service is an opportunity to practice what you preach and to educate those around you. 

It’s also a chance to lead the way in your community and demonstrate just how easy it is to contribute to reducing climate change. 

What Can You Do to Feel Good About Shredding? 

Like anything, a few bad apples spoil the bunch, and the professional shredding industry is no exception. You need to be sure you’re working with someone with the same values as you. And that means researching to ensure you are working with a business that gives you peace of mind. 

Before entrusting anyone with your waste, think of the following: 

  • Values – Are green issues front and center of a brand’s marketing? If it’s buried deep within their website, the chances are they’re more about talking than doing. 
  • Policy Precision – What do they say about their commitment to sustainability? If they’re vague about how they do things sustainably, that’s a red flag to steer clear of them. 
  • Follow the Trail – Ask your service provider exactly where your waste is recycled and do some research into the place. The more you learn about the process and what really happens to your waste, the more confident you can be in your choice. 

Above all, giving your money to a company with values aligning with yours is the best way to ensure you do your part for the environment. 

Beyond that, do your utmost to prevent waste in the first place and be a green leader in your community. You can do that by instituting a paperless office and educating your team on using less paper throughout the day. 

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