What not to put in your office shredder

While we always recommend using a shredding service to ensure fully compliant information destruction, we understand that, for some, the old-school method of self-shredding is hard to let go of.

If you haven’t yet come around to the idea of using a shredding service provider, it’s vital you use your office shredder properly. There are quite a lot of limitations around what can be destroyed using the average office shredder. Misusing these machines can cause safety risks, malfunctions, and could even result in a broken shredder altogether. Here are some materials you should not put in your office shredder.

Illustration showing things that you shouldn't put in an office shredder

Staples and paper clips

Staples and paper clips can dull your shredder’s blades over time, reducing the machine’s lifespan. They could also create sparks if they go through your shredder blades. Small office shredders are a hotbed for paper dust. Even a tiny spark could ignite your entire shredding machine.

In contrast, industrial shredding service providers typically will accept staples and paper clips. At Shred Station, we can shred these items with ease and have specialist fire suppression systems to prevent the risk of ignition. If your materials have a lot of staples and paper clips, it may be worth using a shredding service. We’ll save you from spending time picking out every staple, and we can skim those materials off easily in the recycling process.

Plastic wallets and laminated documents

Office shredders get hot very quickly. This is why, even after just a few minutes of use, they can require lengthy cool-down times. If you were to put plastic wallets or laminated documents into a very hot machine, the plastics could start to melt. This can cause jams and damage to the machine’s mechanisms.

As with staples and paper clips, these materials can be handled far more easily with an industrial shredder. At Shred Station, we don’t require you to remove plastic wallets as these too can be skimmed off during recycling.

Adhesive stickers, tape, or Post-It notes

If it’s sticky, do not put it in your office shredder. This is a surefire way to gum up your shredder blades and essentially wreck your machine. The hot, sticky residue will also act as a glue for non-adhesive paper, making it incredibly difficult to remove. Imagine how annoying it is when you try to remove a sticker from an item and it doesn’t remove properly, leaving a sticky, papery residue behind. Now imagine this on dozens of sharp, rotating blades. Once you have ruined your shredder blades with adhesive, your whole machine will probably need replacing.

At Shred Station, we do ask customers to avoid putting things like tape in their shredding bin wherever possible, but because the volume of paper we shred is so high, our shredder blades are regularly sharpened and replaced. So, a few bits of tape in the mix aren’t going to affect our ability to shred and recycle your materials.

Non-paper items that could contain confidential information

CDs, DVDs, memory cards, credit cards, and other non-paper items shouldn’t be destroyed in your standard office shredder. These items can damage your shredder’s blades and motor. These items can easily be destroyed by an industrial shredding service provider, but they must be kept separately from paperwork to ensure maximum recyclability.

Receipts, carbon paper, and photographs

Items like receipts, carbon paper, and photographs are not made from traditional, recyclable paper. For example, most receipts are “printed” using heat to display certain text on thermal paper. That’s why, when you pay for something on a card machine, there isn’t a huge ink cartridge stuck to the back. It’s all done thermally. Unfortunately, receipts, carbon paper, and photographs can release chemicals when torn apart in a shredder. They can damage even industrial shredding equipment in large enough quantities.

We recommend keeping these items separate from your standard paper shredding. This will ensure your pure paper doesn’t get contaminated for recycling. We also recommend using a shredding service for these items to avoid causing damage to your shredder.

The hidden costs of office shredders

You might think it’s cheaper to use an office shredder than to use a reputable shredding service, but with all the hidden costs, the resources spent on maintaining these machines soon add up. For example:

Consider the cost of human hours

Time is money. If your team spends even one hour a week shredding, over the course of a year, you will have lost 6 and a half working days to destroying paperwork. Your time on this earth is valuable. Do you want to spend it hunched over a slow shredding machine? With a decent office shredder, you might be able to destroy 450 sheets per hour. Using an industrial on-site shredding service, our security-vetted operatives can destroy 600,000 sheets in the same amount of time. With off-site industrial shredding services, that becomes 2,000,000 sheets.

Illustration showing how much paper can be destroyed in 1 hour with different shredding options

Cleaning and lubrication are essential but expensive

To ensure your office shredders stay spinning without any safety risks or annoying jams, you must regularly clean and lubricate your shredder blades. This requires special shredder oil and cleaning products which can be very costly. For example, a few hundred millilitres of shredder oil alone could set you back between £8-£20.

Shredders sometimes need professional servicing

If your shredder endures heavy usage, you’ll need regular servicing to ensure the machine’s longevity.

Businesses must also consider disposal costs

What are you doing with your shredded fragments? If you’re leaving them in an unlocked outdoor bin, that could be a data breach risk. Shredded paperwork will soon fill up your commercial bins, potentially increasing your waste disposal costs. You also may not be able to recycle loose shredded paperwork depending on your supplier, meaning your documents may end up in landfill. This comes with an environmental cost.

If this all sounds like a bit too much hard work, it’s worth considering a shredding service. You may even be surprised how affordable shredding services are. We regularly receive feedback from customers that our shredding services provide excellent value for money and that we provided the most cost-effective quote of all other companies that they approached.

Things you shouldn’t put in your shredding bins!

If you do decide to make the switch to a shredding service supplier, there are some restrictions on what can and cannot be placed in your confidential paper waste and media waste bins. We can collect and destroy other items, but these usually need to be kept separately. If unsure, give our team a call or submit a quick quote request.

things you should not put in your confidential paper waste bin things you shouldn't put in your confidential media waste bin

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