What should I know about Industrial Shredders?

posted this on Jul 22, 2015

Industrial shredders are like shredders on steroids. They are powerful workhorses that consume anything. So it’s no surprise that more companies are looking to invest in these machines rather than contract out their shredding needs. Industrial shredders use a conveyor belt feed system for extremely high volume applications. Much like you place your groceries on the belt at the grocery store, materials to be shred can simply be stacked instead of fed into a paper slot. Powerful steel jaws crunch through larger items, including three ring binders and phone books, depositing the shards into a generous waste bin. Many industrial size machines work with a baler to compact the waste but also function just fine as a stand alone unit. As businesses begin to consider these devices for their organizations, here are a few things to think about.

First, there is the debate between in-house shredding and using a shredding service. Much like investing in a shredder, shredding services work to reduce the cost of shredding by using a higher capacity shredder for all your needs. It allows the majority of the work to be done by a single lower cost worker (as opposed to high paid office staff, administrators, and management), thereby decreasing overall shredding costs. A good rule of thumb for when the cost of purchasing a shredder is justified is when your company shreds 500 pounds of material a week or more. The more shredding you do, the more cost effective it becomes to complete in-house.

So just how much shredding can an industrial shredder handle? The answer to that is roughly 750-2250 pounds of paper per hour. That’s right, I said per hour. The amount is staggering. To give you a little perspective, an average large file box containing paper, folders, mail, and other commonly shred items weighs about 50 pounds. That means that a decent industrial shredder can handle between 15 and 45 large file boxes per hour!

Next, you may be wondering exactly how much you shred, and if you really need a machine that can do all that. There are two different ways you can measure this. First, you can go by the number of employees you have. The average worker shreds about 50 sheets a day, which equals out to 2.5 pounds per week. Simply multiply that by the number of employees you have and that is how much shredding you should plan for. The second way measure by the number of shred boxes or bins you create each week and multiply by the capacity. The most common box sizes are 36″ and 27″, which equal out to be 65lbs and 45lbs, respectively. Bins come in 92 and 64 gallon sizes, equaling 350 and 250 pounds. So if your company produces 18 45lb boxes weekly, you’ll need to prepare for 810 pounds of shredding per week.

Once you have an idea of how much you shred, you can get a quote from a shredding service and compare from there. In many cases, the trade off is minimal and comes down to security: do you trust someone else to handle your shredding and potentially have their hands on classified information?  Prices for a shredding service depend on a number of factors, including the volume to be shred, security level desired, logistics of your building, how often you need materials shred, who provides the bins or boxes, and whether you want your items shred on-site or trucked to their shredding plant. Generally shredding companies price their services by the minute or by pick-up frequency. When you go with a shredding company, you are subject to rate increases due to fuel costs and other variables. On average, you can expect to pay about 20-25 cents per pound with the rate dropping the more shredding you need done.

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