By now everyone is well aware that paper documentation should be shredded in order to be destroyed securely. It’s something shredding and recycling companies will talk about quite a lot, as most people will need to shred paper at some point in their lives. However, what isn’t talked about as much is the destruction of textiles and fabric, like your work uniform. It might seem strange to shred a uniform, but if it displays your company logo, any information or an employee name, it should be shredded. More and more businesses are putting uniform shredding procedures in place to ensure brand protection and security of your workplace. But what happens to the uniforms once they have been shredded, and how are they shredded in the first place?
When material first arrives it needs to be sorted. Textiles are sorted manually into types ranging from cotton, wool, burlap, polyurethane, polyester, nylon, carpet, rags, synthetic fibres and shoes. Each pile of sorted textiles is then sorted again, this time by which kind of shredder it needs to be processed through. Simple materials like cotton t-shirts and polyester jackets can be fed through the same shredding blades, but carpets and nylon might need a different strength or size of blade. Once they have been sorted each pile can be shredded.
If you try to feed a t-shirt through your home shredder, you will probably end up with a mangled mess and needing a new shredder. That’s because off the shelf domestic shredders are only equipped to deal with paper and some plastics (like credit cards). They may be able to sort of staples and paperclips, but fabric presents a new challenge in itself, especially if it is a hardwearing or weather resistant material. So instead of doing it at home or at the office, you will need to take it to a professional shredding centre for disposal. Here all logos are cut out and destroyed separately before it is fed into a textile shredding machine, first on a wide setting and then on a narrow setting. The material is then dropped onto a screen placed above a collection bin. Anything that doesn’t make it through the screen is then fed through to a secondary cutting system for re-shredding to ensure a through destruction.
Once material has been shredded you are assured of its security and your compliance with the Data Protection Act. Particularly if the uniforms require secure shredding, perhaps if it is coming from the armed forces or the police, this is incredibly helpful. Once destroyed, your textiles can now be recycled and repurposed to reduce wastage as much as possible. Some types of textiles, including damaged ones can be converted into rags and wiping cloths, which can then be sold on. Other materials like wool can be extracted and sent off to be re-used in wool clothing. Some materials like cotton can be difficult to repurpose into clothes, but they can be broken down into fibres and made into carpets, insulation, cushions or even the stuffing for car seats.
What we can say with certainty is that all materials and textiles that are brought to us for shredding are recycled wherever possible. While that may not always be into other clothes, it is always into another material that can have its own use and reduce our impact on the planet. If you send your old uniforms to straight to landfill, you are not only contributing to pollution and waste, you might also be risking the security of your business if all information and logos have not been properly removed. For more information about shredding uniforms or to request your secure shredding bags, get in touch with us today.