Five little-known facts about the shredding industry

The shredding industry is an essential cog in the UK business landscape’s machinery. Shredding companies are responsible for securely destroying confidential and sensitive information to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands. This can include Top Secret government information and documents relating to national security, old police force documents, and everyday business materials like HR files.

However, despite being such a key part of the nation’s information protection infrastructure, there are some little-known facts about the shredding industry that many people are not aware of. From industry standards to the scale of shredding services, here are five facts about the shredding industry that you may not know.

The information destruction industry is not regulated by the UK government.

Despite handling some of the most sensitive information in the country, the UK’s shredding industry remains unregulated by the UK government. For this reason, it is imperative that you find a shredding service supplier that is reputable, fully accredited by UKAS certifiers, and has a lot of experience. When looking at potential shredding suppliers, you should also look for membership with professional bodies such as the BSIA and UKSSA. With UKSSA membership, shredding suppliers must pass an independent annual audit of their sites and services. This gives shredding service customers the reassurance of knowing that their supplier hasn’t been left to their own devices or bad practices.

DIN shred sizing doesn’t really matter when it comes to shredding services in the UK. What does matter is EN 15713 standards.

To oversimplify DIN 66399 vs EN 15713 shredding standards, DIN is a German standard that specifies shred size only. For example, if you have a personal shredder that works to P-1, it will shred your documents into 12mm strips with a total overall size of less than or equal to 2000mm². EN 15713, however, focuses on the full picture. It does include shred size, but it also takes into account the overall security practices of a shredding service supplier. For instance, for a shredding company to meet EN 15713 standards, all employees must be security vetted to BS7858 levels. Measures also must be in place to ensure that materials are transported, shredded, and recycled securely. You can read more about these standards in another of our blog posts.

While shred size isn’t everything, it’s also not widely known just how aggressively your materials can be destroyed using specialist destruction equipment. Larger shredding companies will often have granulators. With granulators, your materials can be destroyed into tiny 2mm fragments.

Pretty much anything can be shredded. Some companies just choose to only shred paper.

The industrial shredders that shredding companies use aren’t like your typical household shredders. They are much bigger and much more powerful. This means they can be used to destroy materials much tougher than paper. You’d be surprised by some of the weird and wonderful things that companies destroy. The reason that some companies only choose to shred paper is that it makes life a bit easier for them. Paper is easily and widely recyclable in the UK. Items like shredded hard drives, as just one example, are a bit more complicated to recycle after shredding.

It can take a long time for shredding companies to build up a network of verified, trustworthy, and reliable suppliers for non-paper materials. At Shred Station, we have been operating since 2008, so we have that network in place. This means we can shred pretty much anything, and nothing we shred will ever go to landfill.

Stacked bales of shredded paper

An industrial shredder can destroy 2 million sheets of paper every hour.

Where a top-of-the-range home shredder can destroy around 450 pages per hour, an industrial off-site shredder can destroy 2,000,000 pages per hour. To put this into perspective, every single person who lives in Cardiff, Bangor, Edinburgh, and Liverpool combined could each throw a page into an industrial off-site shredder, and it would be gone within just 60 minutes. This is a big perk of outsourcing your shredding services. Imagine how long it would take a staff member at your company to shred 2,000,000 sheets with an office shredder! Well, you don’t need to imagine. We’ve done the maths. It would take 4,444.44 working hours – without breaks and not accounting for shredder cool-down and maintenance time. If working 5 days per week, every week without any holidays, it would take them around two years and one month.

Shredding can be highly sustainable – when done correctly.

If you’ve ever had a shredding service, you can probably imagine big industrial shredding plants, fleets of large trucks, and mountains of waste. This image is accurate. However, that does not mean the image can’t be misconstrued.

Shredding plants can be green. At Shred Station, our head office is powered by solar panels. Our Norwich depot’s forklifts are fully electric, rather than diesel-powered. Our company cars are all switching to hybrid or electric models. The lights in our depots and offices are energy efficient. We even recycle our coffee grounds.

Shredding trucks can also be green. Our fleet is comprised of over 100 vehicles. All of our trucks meet Euro 6 Low Emission standards, using AdBlue to neutralise tailpipe emissions. That means our trucks don’t release harmful gases into the atmosphere when out on the roads. We are also trialling electric trucks.

Our “mountain” of waste? Green. We recycle 100% of the paper we shred at UK mills and have dedicated waste streams for non-paper materials. For example, shredded metals are sent to metal refineries. Shredded plastics are sent to be melted down and extruded into new plastics. With recyclable textiles, we’ll use rag recycling. For non-recyclable materials, we never use landfill, instead using Energy from Waste to generate energy for the National Grid.

A recent study by Deloitte found that 34% of consumers said their trust in brands would be improved if they were recognised as ethical/sustainable by an independent third party. In the shredding industry, trust is everything.

Fleet of shredding trucks in circular formation

CarbonNeutral® certified

At Shred Station, we recognise that trust is everything. We are the only national provider of shredding services to be CarbonNeutral® certified. Every year since 2019, we have undergone an annual Greenhouse Gas Assessment, performed by Nature Positive (an RSK company) and Climate Impact Partners. This assessment includes our fuel usage, our utility bills, our waste streams, and much more. We publish the entire Greenhouse Gas Assessment and all comments on our website each year for full transparency. We’re also ISO 14001 certified, operate with a strict Zero to Landfill policy, and recycle 100% of the paper we shred at UK mills. This means we can provide cost-effective shredding services that suit you, without harming the environment.

Get in touch with our experts to see how we can help you.

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