Industrial Shredder FAQ

What’s an Industrial Shredder?

Industrial shredders are conveyor fed shredders designed for higher volumes applications. Instead of feeding sheets into a slot, your just toss piles of sheets on to the conveyor and the conveyor feeds the piles of paper into large, hardened steel cutting heads. Industrial shredders can work as stand alone units or with integrated balers.

Is an industrial shredder right for my company?

Industrial shredders allow you to do for yourself what you normally hire a shredding service to do, which is to reduce the cost of shredding by consolidating the shredding of numerous employees, using a high capacity shredder. This allows the bulk of shredding to be done by one, lower cost employee (lower as compared to your expensive office workers, administrators and even managers) and therefore reduce the overall cost of shredding. You can begin to cost justify an industrial shredder at about 500 pounds of shredding per week. The more shredding your company does, the more cost effective an industrial shredder becomes.

How much can an industrial shredder shred per hour?

Industrial shredders can shred from 750 to about 2,250 pounds of paper per hour, depending on the cut type. Seven hundred fifty pounds of paper would be about 15 large file boxes of paper, file folders, mail and other items commonly shredded. Each file box will typically weigh about 50 pound when full, so 2,250 pounds would be about 45 large file boxes.

How can I estimate how much shredding my company does?

One method is by number of employees. The average office worker in the US shreds about 50 sheets of paper per day. This includes self generated documents, incoming mail and items purged from filing cabinets. This translates into about 2.5 pounds of shredding per employee, per week. So a typical company with 250 office workers on site will probably shred about 625 pounds per week.

Another method is to count the number of shred boxes and bins in use and multiply as appropriate by the capacity of each type of box or bin. The most common shred box sizes are the 36” and 27” boxes which hold 65 and 45 pounds of paper respectively. The most popular bin sizes are the 92 and 64 gallon bins which hold 350 and 250 pounds respectively.

Is it less expensive to use an industrial shredder, or to hire a shredding service?

Your price from a shredding service will depend on a few factors:

1. Your shredding volume, the higher the volume, the lower the unit cost.
2. The security level of the shredding that you desire. The higher the security level, the longer it takes to shred.
3. The logistics of your facility (this determines how long it will take the driver to walk around and empty all the bins.)
4. How often do you want your shred bins emptied? More visits mean a higher price.
5. Does your shred service provide the shred boxes and shred bins free of charge?
6. Do you want on-site or plant based shredding?

Shredding services will typically price by the bin (sometimes called “by the tip”) or they will charge by the minute/hour. Some services also charge for pick-up (also called “visit charges”). There may also be unanticipated costs such as fuel surcharges when fuel prices go up. Prices are also affected by the after market price the shredding service can get for the paper they sell to recycling companies.

You’ll probably find that the going price of shredding services will equate to about twenty to twenty-five cents per pound although few if any shredding service will actually quote a “per pound” price. High volumes may equate to as low as ten cents per pound and lower volumes can equate to as much as forty cents per pound.

Your cost to shred in-house with an industrial shredder will also depend on three factors:

1. The hourly labor rate of the person you designate to do the shredding.
2. The purchase price or monthly lease, maintenance cost, capacity, and projected life span of your shredder
3. Overhead costs such as collection (emptying the bins), shredder bags, shredder oil and maintenance.

Fortunately, all of these costs are easily anticipated and can be controlled with an effective security plan. The chart below illustrates the relative cost per pound of both, at varying levels of shredding volume.

The operative point is that by installing your own industrial shredder, buying your own bins and developing your own plan, you are essentially employing the same logic and economy of scale that the shredding service uses and you keep the savings.

What do I need, to put my own in-house shredding plan together?

There are a few things you will need to arrange:

1. Does your facility have the space for an in-house industrial shredder? You will need:
a. space for the shredder (shredder footprint plus about 3-4 feet all around)
b. space to stage about one weeks worth of material to shred, you can fit 2,000 lbs on one pallet
c. space for the bagged (or baled) shredded material, bagged material will need 2x the space of the unshredded material and baled material will be about a 1:1 ratio.
2. Does your facility have, or can you install adequate power at the location where shredding will take place. You will need 220V, 3-phase, 30 or 50 amp, 60 cycle power.
3. Do you have, or can you hire a low cost, reliable employee to do the shredding? This is a great job for a high school student as you will find that because of the capacity of the shredder, the shredding can be done once or twice a week.
4. You will need to purchase shred boxes and/or bins and wheeled carts to transport the material from the boxes and bins to the shredder. Shred boxes and bins are inexpensive and long lasting. There are several quality manufacturers.

What are some of the elements that my plan should contain?
  • The first thing you need to do is take a look at your company’s organizational structure and divide the various departments into high, medium and low security zones:
  • High Security Zones are areas of the company where very sensitive documents are commonly produced. Most companies will consider areas such as payroll, human resources, the executive suite and research & development as high security zones.
  • Medium Security Zones are areas where documents are produced that while they may not represent a compliance risk, they could be competitively sensitive or provide confidential financial information. Common medium security zones are sales & marketing departments, advertising and accounting.
  • Low Security Zones would be any other department.
  • Your second step will to determine the best shredding solution by zone. You need to consider the number of employees in that zone and the logistics of the zone. For each zone determine if it is best served by having it’s own shredder in the zone, a shred box to serve small numbers of people or a shred bin to serve larger numbers of people. Be generous in the number of shred boxes and bins, they are inexpensive, almost never have to be replaced and they make your plan more convenient, thus more likely to be effective.
  • Your plan should provide details about how often bins need to be emptied and shredded in each zone. High security areas may need to have their bins emptied and shredded on a daily basis. Medium and low security zones may need to be serviced only once or twice per week. Whatever the case, every box, bin and shredder in your facility should be included in your plan. For the sake of efficiency, it’s a good idea to have the same person who empties boxes and bins replace bags in office shredders and oil the shredders on a regular basis. This will keep your shredders running better for a longer period of time.

How many shred boxes, bins and shredders will I need?

Logistics will play a significant role in this decision because in addition to considering the number of employees that will be serviced by a box, bin or shredder, you need to consider access. You also need to consider the probability of a given department to produce documents that should be shredded. These things considered, here are a few very general guidelines:

Description Capacity Employees Serviced
One Office Shredder 8 to 12 sheets @ 15' to 30' per minute Up to 10
One Departmental Shredder 12 to 50 sheets @ 20' to 50' per minute Up to 40
One Industrial Shredder 750 to 2,250 pounds per hour Up to 1,000 but possibly more depending on logistics of facility and frequency of shredding
One 27" Shred Box 45 lbs. Up to 6
One 36" Shred Box

65 lbs.

Up to 13
One 65 Gallon Bin 250 lbs. Up to 50
One 92 Gallon Bin 350 lbs. Up to 70