Is it okay to shred paper with staples, plastic wallets, and paper clips?

Many people ask us whether they can shred paper with staples, plastic wallets, paper clips and folders still in place. Often, these people have been manually removing every staple, paper clip, and plastic wallet so they can use a small home or office shredder.

If you’ve been using a home or office shredder for years, you might not know what a shredding service looks like behind the scenes. We’ve had people tell us that they imagined a factory full of people, each with a small shredder, destroying every document we collect by hand. What actually happens behind the scenes is an industrial process. At each of our shredding depots is a huge industrial shredder. For on-site shredding, we use trucks that are equipped with smaller industrial shredders on board.

Image of three types of shredders: household shredder, industrial on-site shredder, industrial off-site shredder.

So, is it okay to shred paper with staples, plastic wallets, and paper clips?

If shredding with a personal shredder – No.

You must remove all metals and plastics if you are using a small home or office shredder yourself.

Small home and office shredders require a lot of maintenance and must be used responsibly to avoid health and safety risks. If any non-paper materials enter these shredders, they can blunt the shredder teeth and jam or even break the mechanisms. Shredding metals especially can generate sparks, posing a possible fire risk. This is because the paper dust in home shredding machines can build up and ignite quickly.

If using a specialist shredding company – Yes.

You can keep staples in, plastic wallets on, and you don’t even have to remove paperwork from lever-arch files when using a shredding company. This is the case for both on-site and off-site shredding services.

The capabilities of industrial shredders are worlds apart from small home or office shredders. Our industrial shredders can easily destroy items like hard drives, products, plastics, and much more. Shredding service suppliers will maintain shredders and sharpen the blades often. A few staples in the mix will not damage the equipment. Shredding service suppliers will also have safety features in place on their equipment and at their depots such as fire suppression systems. A shredding service supplier doesn’t just take away your paperwork and the responsibility of compliance. It takes away the need for you to spend time and money maintaining your personal shredder and removes all the risks that shredding poses to your health and safety.

How does the recycling process work with things like plastic wallets?

When you shred your documents at home, you may not even be able to recycle the shredded paperwork. This is because it becomes hard to separate for many local council’s recycling facilities. If that paper also contains bits of shredded plastic wallets, forget about it.

When you use a shredding service provider, the volume of materials being shredded is so huge that a few plastic wallets won’t affect its ability to be recycled. While we do not actively encourage our customers to put plastic wallets and staples in with their shredding, it won’t prevent us from recycling your shredded paper. This is because the paper mills we use (which are UK-based) have highly sophisticated technology to separate small bits of plastic and metals from shredded paperwork.

At Shred Station, we have a strict Zero to Landfill policy for all the materials we shred. We are also CarbonNeutral® certified, an achievement we have proudly maintained since January 2019. Our security-vetted team of experts can ensure your materials are destroyed safely, compliantly, and with net-zero emissions.

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