Shredders – A Closer Look

shredded paper

Shredders are classified according to the shape and size of the shreds they produce. Shredders can range in size from standard scissors and other hand-operated devices all the way up to truck-sized shredders.

Here are several examples of the various cuts that shredders are capable of:

  • Strip-cut shredders, the least secure, use rotating knives to cut narrow strips as long as the original sheet of paper. Such strips can be reassembled by a determined and patient investigator or adversary, as the product (the destroyed information) of this type of shredder is the least randomized. It also creates the highest volume of waste inasmuch as the chad has the largest surface area and is not compressed.
  • Cross-cut or confetti-cut shredders use two contra-rotating drums to cut rectangular, parallelogram, or diamond-shaped shreds.
  • Particle-cut shredders create tiny square or circular pieces.
  • Cardboard shredders are designed specifically to shred corrugated material into either strips or a mesh pallet.
  • Disintegrators and granulators repeatedly cut the paper at random until the particles are small enough to pass through a mesh.
  • Hammermills pound the paper through a screen.
  • Pierce and Tear Rotating blades pierce the paper and then tear it apart.
  • Grinders A rotating shaft with cutting blades grinds the paper until it is small enough to fall through a screen.

Depending on the nature of the shredding job, there are several standards of the security levels for the shredded paper. Level one and level two require the least amount of security, however level three through six shreds are considered, top secret, confidential or classified information. The sizes of the shredded paper decreases as the level of security increases. For example, a level one shreds to 12mm strips and a level six shreds to 0.8 x 4mm particles.

Now that we have distinguished the type of shredding that can be produced, let’s look at the exciting uses for the different types of materials that are shredded:

  • Animal Bedding – Animal bedding is one of the most economical and ecological methods of recycling. Waste paper, such as newsprint can be shredded and bagged to produce a warm and comfy bed for animals.
  • Void Fill and Packaging – Shredded material can be used both as an aesthetic and functional product. Shredded Cellophane can be used to package high street good, and shredded cardboard can be used as a void fill for the transportation of goods.
  • Cardboard Briquettes – Briquettes are quickly becoming a viable alternative to coal and other non renewable fuels.
  • Children’s Playgrounds – Once tires have been shredded and granulated, they are often combined with a strong resin to create soft rubber playground.
  • Insulation – In Japan, finely shredded newsprint is often mixed with flame-retardant chemicals and glue to create a spray-able insulation material for the construction of buildings to be applied on wall interiors and on the underside of roofing.

Don’t forget, shredding is good for the environment (shredded paper is often used in recycling or packaging material), it also reduces waste volume by up to 75%, and for the remaining material that reaches landfills, it is much less robust and takes up less room in fill. Shredding protects your “trash” from becoming an identity thief’s “treasure” and holds financial, health and governmental agencies accountable to properly dispose of sensitive material. Shredding is now big business and machines are marketed for every part of the consumer spectrum, from the home user to huge corporations.