Paper shredding services cut paper into tiny pieces, then recycle it. People normally use these services to destroy confidential personal documents.
Shredding confidential papers is important because it prevents your personal data from being stolen and allows that paper to be recycled.
For one-off, big shredding jobs, using a shredding service can be cheaper than buying a shredder! Decent home shredders cost around £50 and it can take hours to destroy lots of documents.
In this guide you’ll find answers to the following:
- What are domestic paper shredding services?
- How do domestic paper shredding services work?
- How much do domestic paper shredding services cost?
- What personal confidential papers should I shred?
- What about non-paper items that contain personal information?
- How do domestic paper shredding services compare with using a home shredder?
- What do shredding companies do with the paper?
What are domestic paper shredding services?
Domestic paper shredding services help you dispose of any confidential waste you have at home. You might choose to use one if you have too much personal paperwork to securely dispose of on your own.
Domestic paper shredding companies usually offer one-off, contract-free shredding services that are ideal if you’re:
- moving house
- disposing of the paperwork of someone who has died
- organising or de-cluttering your home
- running a business from home
- working with sensitive documents from home
The shredding company will give you confidential waste sacks to fill, arrange to collect them and then shred the paper at their premises.
If you prefer, you can arrange for the shredding company to shred your papers in a special van with an on-board shredder at your home. This service is suitable if you have a significant amount of paper to shred. Make sure you have enough space outside your house for a mobile shredding truck to park.
Not sure which shredding service to choose? Read our guide How to decide what kind of document shredding service you need.
If you run a business from home then using domestic paper shredding services will help you comply with GDPR.
If you want to find out more, or if you have a specific question you need answering, then read our domestic paper shredding FAQs here.
How do domestic paper shredding services work?
These services are a quick and secure way to dispose of confidential waste.
They work as follows:
- The shredding company will deliver empty confidential waste sacks to you in person or send the sacks to you via courier or Royal Mail.
- You’ll fill the sacks to the ‘fill’ line at the top.
- Once you’ve filled the sacks (there’s not usually a time limit on how long you can have the sacks for), let the shredding company know. One of their employees will collect your confidential documents and leave you with a signed waste transfer note.
- The vehicle will return to the secure depot, where your material will be transferred to the shredding area and destroyed within 24 hours.
- You’ll receive a certificate of destruction for your records via email, or through the post (if you ask for this).
Some shredding companies will let you take paper documents to their premises without putting it in one of their sacks. They will measure the volume of paper according to the number of waste sacks it would fill and charge you accordingly.
You won’t need to remove papers from ring binders, plastic envelopes, folders or other stationery—the shredding company will deal with this for you. You can also leave paperclips and staples in place as the shredder will destroy these along with the paper.
How much do domestic paper shredding services cost?
Domestic paper shredding companies usually charge by the sack, but their prices include the cost of:
- delivering empty sacks
- collecting full sacks
- shredding and recycling the paper onsite or offsite
Shredding companies typically charge a price per bag with a minimum number of bags. For example, at Russell Richardson we charge £55 + VAT for collection and offsite shredding, and £65 + VAT for onsite shredding for 10 sacks.
The price a shredding company charges will depend on:
- the amount of paper that needs shredding
- where you’re located
- whether you want the paper shredded onsite or offsite
- whether the shredding company collects the full sacks from you, or you take them to the shredding company’s premises yourself
If you’re doing a one-time, big shredding job and don’t own a shredder, it could be cheaper to use a shredding service than to buy a shredder. Quality home shredders cost around £50 and can take hours to destroy lots of documents.
You can find out more about how much document shredding services from Russell Richardson cost here. If you’re not sure which service is right for you then read our guide to cost considerations for paper shredding services.
What personal confidential papers should I shred?
It’s a good idea to shred any papers which contain personally identifiable information. Personally identifiable information (also known as PII) is anything that can be used to identify you, such as your:
- date of birth
- email address
- bank details
- passport number
- driver’s licence number
The best way to keep your personal details secure is to shred any papers that contain PII. This includes the following:
- Financial papers
- Bank statements
- Credit card and loan statements
- Mortgage documents
- Utility bills
- Phone bills
- Payslips, P45s and P60s
- Tax returns
- Warranties and receipts
- Insurance documents
- Personal papers
- Copies of medical letters
- Letters and envelopes with your address on them, including junk mail
- Boarding passes for flights
- Hotel information
- Papers relating to your children or their school
- Old passports and driver’s licences (you can find out more about shredding old passports here)
- Photo IDs
There are some documents you must keep for a certain period of time before you dispose of them. Citizens Advice has guidelines on how long you should keep certain documents—you can view them here.
What about non-paper items that contain personal information?
Thieves can easily target any personal information you store on devices such as:
- credit cards
- SIM cards
- memory cards and sticks
- hard drives
Shredding these devices is the best way to ensure the confidential information on them is destroyed.
It’s not a good idea to put these items in a home shredder. Even though CDs and credit cards are thin enough to fit most shredders, the blades could send sharp debris flying and likely break your shredder in the process.
Credit cards need to be shredded thoroughly so the number, magnetic strip and chip are fully destroyed.
It’s much safer, more secure and less messy to have these items shredded professionally with a domestic shredding service than attempting to shred or cut them up yourself.
You can find out more about what’s involved in destroying hard drives here.
How do domestic paper shredding services compare with using a home shredder?
Using a home shredder to destroy a large amount of confidential paper has a number of drawbacks:
- It’s not very secure
- Many home shredders only shred paper vertically. Industrial shredders cut paper vertically and horizontally several times so the documents can’t be put back together.
- It takes a long time
- Home shredders tend to be small and can take a maximum of around 10 pages at a time.
- You’ll need to continually empty the shredded paper from the attached bin.
- You’ll need to remove plastic wallets, folders, ring binders, paperclips, staples and other stationery before shredding. If you choose to use a shredding service, you won’t have to remove these.
- Paper jams are common and will slow you down further.
- It’s messy and inconvenient
- Shredding paper can be very dusty and noisy and you’ll need to clean the floor around the shredder after you’ve finished.
- You’ll still have to dispose of the paper afterwards, either in your household recycling (although some kerbside collections don’t accept shredded paper) or by taking the shredded paper to a recycling centre. Find out more about recycling shredded paper here.
- Shredded paper can easily spill out of bags or blow away.
- It’s not always safe
- Older shredders may not have appropriate safety features.
- You won’t be able to safely shred items such as credit cards and CDs in a home shredder.
What do shredding companies do with the paper?
Once the company has shredded your paper, it bales the tiny pieces together and takes them to a recycling facility.
The paper we shred at Russell Richardson is turned into soft tissue hygiene products such as toilet paper. You can find out more about what happens to the shredded paper here.