New rules for shredded paper waste


The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) has identified a new method to recycle shredded paper that adheres to the state’s new recycling program, Recycle Together RI.

The new process requires residents to double-bag all shredded paper in clear or fairly see-through plastic bags and tie the bags shut before placing them in their recycling bin or cart. This allows the shredded paper to be spotted and removed in the earliest stage of the sorting process and is the only recyclable item that should ever be placed in a plastic bag before recycling.

“We are already seeing the benefits of Recycle Together RI in our Materials Recycling Facility and are constantly working to ensure that the new machinery is operating efficiently,” said Brian Dubis, MRF operations supervisor for RIRRC. “To achieve this goal, it is important that residents are informed of new recycling practices so they may properly prepare their recyclables for collection. We encourage all residents to adopt this new habit so that we may continue to process the state’s shredded paper uninterrupted.”

Prior to Recycle Together RI, residents were advised to place their shredded paper in paper bags and staple them shut. With the new recycling program, paper, plastic, glass and aluminum recyclables all enter the sorting facility together.

At the first stage of the automatic sorting process, a large spinning rotor, or “drum feeder,” meters out the mixed recyclables evenly onto the first conveyor belt. The drum feeder is so powerful that it rips apart the paper bags, causing the shreds to go everywhere, jamming up the machinery and contaminating the quality of the other recyclables. A doubled-plastic bag, however, is durable enough to survive the drum feeder and can be easily identified and plucked off the conveyor belts by employees.

For this same reason, RIRRC is unable to accept loose shredded paper at their facility. The loose paper can’t be effectively contained and causes recyclables to be cross-contaminated and causes processing delays. Double-bagging in clear or fairly see-through plastic bags is now the only acceptable practice to recycle shredded paper as part of Rhode Island’s curbside collection.

RIRRC officials emphasize that shredded paper is the only item that can be recycled in plastic bags and all other plastic bags should continue to be recycled through a recycling program such as the state’s plastic bag recycling program, ReStore. You can find ReStore containers in most R.I. supermarkets, big-box retailers and pharmacies throughout the state.

To learn more about Recycle Together RI or to contact RIRRC with a question, visit or call 942-1430.


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