back to article Compost your shredded bank statements today

Consumers concerned about both the environment and personal security should compost their shredded bank statements, a firm that manufactures shredders advises. In the UK, local councils frequently refuse to collect and recycle shredded waste. So consumers might feel torn between protecting the environment or their own personal …

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JP

Not so much money growing on trees...

As trees growing on (shredded) money...

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What's the problem?

Surely the first step in the process of recycling paper ..... is to shred it?!

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It's the councils' fault

> local councils frequently refuse to collect and recycle shredded waste

So toss it out the car... if your shredder's any good, you won't get nicked unless somebody sees you.

On this side of the pond they used to refuse the plastic grocery bags, with the result they were seen floating all over the planet. After a ton of complaints to the gov't that got fixed.

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Re: What's the problem?

Paper is indeed shredded during the recycling process, but the problem is sorting - it is easier to separate paper from other materials (plastic, staples, cardboard etc) when it's in big sheets. Especially as most home recycling schemes give you one bin to put everything in - there is no mechanical way of separating small bits like shredded paper from the general junk.

The solution is to collect shredded paper separately - but it's not currently cost-effective, hence only a few councils offering the service.

It could be worse. I live on the Isle of Wight and they don't recycle paper at all - as there isn't the facility to do so on the island, and the cost of transporting it to the mainland outweighs the income from selling the recycled paper. So they burn it. (In fact, when I queried the council, the response I got was 'but we do recycle plastic and paper - put it in the normal bin and it's converted into fuel'. So environmentally aware!)

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Anonymous Coward

It gets worse

My local council (I wont name them because I work for them) not only refuses to take shreaded paper, but tells you you MUST put it out for recycling not in genral waste, and (untill very recently anyway) did not give you bins to put it in, gave you little green (Open) boxes, which had to bbe put on the curb for colection, not in your front garden. Not very clever.

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Another reason is ...

... that when you shred the paper you cut the fibres. Contrary to what many people (including a previous poster) think, paper is not 'shredded' during recyling, it is put into a vat with a load of water (and a few chemicals) and agitated until the fibres separate. Anything that doesn't disolve (like staples, bits of platic and so on) gets sieved out. You can get a good idea what this is like by putting some (clean !) toilet paper or kitchen roll in a bowl of water and agitating it gently until is breaks down.

After that, it may go through 'de-inking' where chemicals are used that will largely separate much of the ink from the paper and it is floated off as a scum - it really does look foul ! The same applies with the clays etc used in smooth papers.

Finally the pulp slurry is mixed with fresh and fed into the paper making machines.

Each time paper goes through recyling, the fibres do get broken - so the average fibre length will reduce - this reduces the strength of the finished paper. Shredded paper (especially cross cut !) goes into the recyling facility with a head start on reduced fibre length, so the resulting pulp is less useful and less valuable. But mixed in with a load of normal paper, it's going to degrade the whole batch as it's not really practical to sort out out.

If you have a papermill anywhere near you, find out if they do public tours and get on one if you can - it's quite fascinating to see how it's made.

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Little green open boxes...

I bet that's Durham... we have those damned things, when they don't blow away!

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We must be lucky

Our Council (Newark & Sherwood) accepts shredded paper waste in the recycle bin (Or happy bin as my youngest child calls it) - having said that, we have got one of the highest Council Tax rates in the Country!

The only trouble is that my (Fellows) shredder cuts the paper into 6.3mm strips which doesn't seem very secure to me so I end up burning it - Remind me to buy a cross cut shredder next time!

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Recycling the non-sensitive bits

I tend to rip off the name/number/address bits from the top of the paper work and dispose of them securely (via a shredder at work) and put the bulk in the recycle bin unshredded (living in an apartment where 3 bins are shared between 9 units helps spread the ID out a bit too ;-)

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free news paper

I have seen a “recycling” track chuck all the rubbish, including all the carefully separated recycling by my idio... err green neighbours into one container.

Security takes precedent, how much possible damage can shredded statements make? Even if you have 20 credit cards, 5 mobile phone bills, and say 50 other pages of sensitive information a month, that is still less than that of a free news paper thrown into the rubbish bin in London.

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Anonymous Coward

Make less waste and it won't need shredding

The problem is that a lot of the waste shouldn't need to be created in the first place.

There's no reason why monthly statements need printing at all, when we already have the option to look at them on screen. And any organisation which doesn't have the ability to offer paperless bills and statements really ought to be taken out and shot.

There is, equally, no reason for banks who *do* have online statements to email their customers monthly and urge them to print off their statements because they will be deleted in six months. Banks could keep those statements available electronically for 6 years without significantly denting their excessive profits.

Every company that employs 50 or more people ought to be required by law to *offer* paperless billing and paperless accounting and to maintain paperless records for examination by the customer for not less than 6 years. Similarly, every company that employs 50 or more people ought to be required by law to *use* paperless billing whenever the supplier offers it.

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How to compost shredded paper

If you want to compost your shreddings, lay them on to your compost in a thin layer and water them (use a rose on your can). As they are carbon rich you need nitrogen to get them to rot down.

Dilute human urine or prilled urea in your water or sprinkle with high nitrogen fertiliser like sulphate of ammonia. You can also use hot (unrotted) horse or cow manure to activate.

Go on - be safe and help the environment. You can use the resulting compost to grow veggies and eat the bank statements!

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Been doing it for years!

Good security-conscious hippies like me will have been doing this for years. Shredded paper is an essential part of a healthy happy wormery (like the ones you can get from WrigglyWigglers.co.uk - no connection) and in a few weeks your ID-fraud-inviting paperwork has been transformed by the magic of worm poo into compost and really good tomato fertiliser. No fuss, no bags left on the streets, no need to trust a third party.

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How to compost shredded paper (2)

"If you want to compost your shreddings...Dilute human urine ...to activate."

I always piss over anything sent from my bank or the Inland Revenue. Seems I was doing the environmentally-correct thing as well as venting my ire.

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