finance and insurance shredding

Professional shredding service v DIY shredding (and how many people die in bed each year through falling out….)

Paper shredding companies can give you any number of reasons not to buy your own paper shredding machine – everything from the mess they can make, to the noise they create, from the danger of injury or accident, to the fact that they seem to have a nasty habit of breaking down about a week after the warranty has run out…….

…..but in truth, none of these are really the end of the world, are they? Take the risk of injury; around 10 people per year manage to damage their fingers in a shredder, compare that to deaths from lawnmowers (900) and beds (20,000 accidental bed deaths in the USA last year from getting strangled by sheets, falling out and hitting their heads or choking on a pillow).

Even the creation of a certified audit trail from the certificates of secure destruction could be replicated by accurate in-house audit procedures.

So, is the commitment of taking on a contract with a shredding company worth the trade-off to avoid some of these really not-too-massive problems?

Well, although the commitment needn’t be too onerous (be careful to choose the company wisely and read the small print, see our Guide to Shredding Part 4), for some businesses with very low use of paper a small desk-side shredder might be the smart move.

But for a lot of businesses, the amount of paper they use gives them one really compelling reason to use a shredding service rather than buying their own paper shredding machine:


We’ve summarised the cost of ownership in the table below.  As one of our clients put it “We expected the professional service and accurate paperwork.  What we didn’t expect was savings of £900 per year”.  (Mitchell Meredith, Brecon).

It is not just the cost of the machine itself, and the consumables like bags and oil, nor even the fact that you still need to pay to have the shredded paper taken away and for the paperwork to go along with the collection.  The major factor is the time that using even an expensive “automatic” shredder takes up. 

Below is a summary comparison, based on a business using 10 boxes of paper per month.  We’ve picked a modern Rexel Auto 750 X machine, currently retailing at around £1200, and assumed that it will have a service life of 4 years.  In terms of time, we’ve allowed 10 minutes per sack-load of shredded paper, to account for loading paper into the shredder, removing the full sack, fitting a new sack, sweeping up the bits and then taking the full sack to wherever it is stored before collection.  Of course, if you’re the person in the office who gets stuck with the shredding job, you’ll know that it will take far longer if you have to feed the machine by hand.

The comparison is for a service with four secure lockable consoles collected once every two weeks. 

Shredded paper can take up to 10 times the volume of un-shredded paper, hence the difference in the number of sacks created to process the same amount of paper.

ItemShredding MachineShredding Service
Number of Sacks Produced558
Purchase Cost£15.00£0.00
Service Cost£5.00£50.00
Wage Bill£82.50£0.00
Total Per Month£127.50£50.00
Per Year£1,530.00£600.00
Saving  £930.00  

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