Paper shredding means cutting confidential paper documents into fine pieces so they can’t be read or put back together.

In this guide you’ll find answers to the following:

What is paper shredding and why is it important?

Shredding paper involves destroying confidential business documents by cutting them into tiny particles so the paper can be recycled.

Paper shredding is important because it’s the best way to dispose of confidential papers. Not only does it help prevent your company’s data being stolen, it protects your customers from identity theft and allows the paper to be recycled.

Key reasons why companies shred confidential paper

  • It enables them to comply with data protection laws
  • It protects against data or identity theft
  • It helps free up valuable space in business premises by getting rid of papers that are no longer needed

What are paper shredding services?

Specialist paper shredding companies collect and shred business documents that are no longer needed.

These companies either:

  • take the paper away to be shredded, or
  • provide a mobile paper shredding service that sheds your documents on your premises, usually in a special van with an on-board shredder.

With both services you’ll be given paper shredding bags or containers, such as a lockable wheelie bin or cabinets, for storing your unwanted documents.

If you don’t dispose of your confidential business papers correctly, you face being hit with a hefty fine. Many businesses choose to use secure shredding services as it’s the best way to dispose of confidential papers to ensure they can no longer be read or put back together.

What is mobile paper shredding?

Mobile paper shredding is also known as on-site shredding. A special van with an on-board industrial shredder comes to your premises and shreds your documents on-site.

Companies (and home businesses) choose mobile paper shredding when they want to see the shredding for themselves and make sure the documents have been securely disposed of.

Once the shredding company has shredded your documents, it will take the paper away to be recycled.

Some companies use a mobile paper shredding service regularly, while others may only need it for a one-off occasion, such as an office move.

You can read more about mobile paper shredding services here.

What are domestic paper shredding services?

Domestic paper shredding services dispose of household confidential waste, rather than business confidential waste. If you’re de-cluttering and getting rid of a lot of personal documents, you can order a one-off shredding service. A specialist shredding company will collect and shred your documents for you.

Which paper shredding service is best for my business?

The type of paper shredding service you choose for your business (or home) will depend on:

  • how much confidential waste paper you generate
  • how quickly you generate it
  • how secure you want the paper shredding service to be

There are two main types of paper shredding services:

  • Mobile shredding—your waste paper is shredded on-site in a special van with an on-board shredder
    • Secure shredding takes place on your premises
    • Documents are handled by fewer people
    • Documents are destroyed in mobile shredding trucks
    • Shredding can take place while you watch
    • You receive a certificate of destruction after shredding
  • Off-site shredding—a specialist company takes your waste paper away to be shredded at their premises
    • A more cost-effective service
    • Ideal for bulk shredding and large amounts of confidential waste
    • Documents are transported to a secure depot for shredding
    • Involves more handling but is completely secure
    • You receive a certificate of destruction after shredding

In the table below you can find out more about which service is best suited to which type of business.

Service options

Suited to

Mobile secure shredding

  • Businesses that generate a lot of confidential waste
  • Businesses that need the highest security and want the peace of mind of observing confidential waste being destroyed

Off-site secure shredding

  • Businesses that generate a lot of confidential waste
  • Businesses that don’t need to see the waste being destroyed

No contract, adhoc, shredding service

  • Businesses that don’t generate confidential waste on a regular basis
  • Companies or individuals having a clearout or moving premises

Bulk shredding

  • Large companies that regularly generate a significant amount of confidential waste

What do shredding companies do with the paper?

  1. Once shredded, the tiny pieces of paper are baled together and taken to a recycling facility.
  2. The waste paper particles are then turned into a pulp before impurities, including printing ink, are removed.
  3. This pulp is then mixed with fresh pulp to create new paper products such as boxes, tissues and newspapers. The paper we shred at Russell Richardson is turned into soft tissue hygiene products such as toilet paper.

Why isn’t shredded paper made into new office paper?

Shredded paper isn’t made into new office paper because the fibres are too short. The shorter the fibres, the more restricted the options for recycling, which is why shredded paper is often used to make disposable paper products such as tissues.

Paper shredding FAQs

Can shredded paper be recycled?

Yes, shredded paper can be recycled. If you use a paper shredding service, the company you choose will recycle the paper for you. If you shred your own paper, you can put this in your cardboard and paper recycle bin but don’t put it in plastic bags first.

If you use a mixed recycling bin (i.e. you put plastics, glass and paper in the same bin), you won’t be able to put shredded paper in it. This is because it’s too difficult to separate the tiny pieces of paper from the other types of recyclable materials.

If you’re unsure how to recycle your shredded paper, contact your local authority to see if you can place it in your kerbside recycling.

If you generate a lot of shredded paper, it may be easier and more secure to dispose of this using a paper shredding service—shredded paper collected by these services is recycled.

Can I shred paper with staples in it?

Yes. If you use a paper shredding service or heavy-duty home shredder, you won’t need to remove staples as the shredders are able to shred them. Small home-office paper shredders are unlikely to be powerful enough to shred through staples so if you’re using one of these, you’ll need to remove the staples first.

How can I dispose of shredded paper?

If you live in the UK, most roadside paper and cardboard recycling services will collect shredded paper. However, it’s important to check the service in your area as some local authorities don’t make these collections.

What’s the best way to dispose of confidential papers?

Shredding is the most straightforward and cost-effective way to deal with confidential waste. You will need to use a crosscut shredder to ensure the paper is shredded into small enough pieces.

Strip-cut shredders produce thin strips of paper which someone who’s determined to read your confidential waste could put back together.

Other methods of destroying confidential paper without using a shredder, such as burning or soaking paper, can be time-consuming, less secure and less environmentally friendly than using a shredder or shredding and recycling service.

What papers should I shred?

It’s advisable to shred all business documents you no longer want or need.


  • saves you the time of deciding what you should shred and what you can put straight in the recycling bin
  • prevents any confusion over what documents are considered ‘confidential’
  • avoids you having to store different papers in different areas of your office—opting for a ‘shred everything’ policy means all your documents can be stored in the same place

Are paper shredding services available for home offices?

Yes, many paper shredding companies provide a domestic service. This usually means the company will provide you with paper shredding bags and, once full, collect them and take the paper away to be shredded and recycled.

How do home paper shredding services work?

Paper shredding services for the home work in the same way as for larger companies. Most people who have confidential domestic papers to shred will use an off-site shredding service simply because they have fewer documents to destroy when compared to a business.

The service will work as follows:

  • A service operative will arrive to collect your confidential documents, leaving you with a signed waste transfer note.
  • The vehicle will return to the secure depot.
  • Your material is transferred to the shredding area and destroyed within 24 hours.
  • You will receive a certificate of destruction for your records.

Where can I shred my paper myself?

Most shredding companies will not allow customers to shred their own documents for health and safety reasons. If you’re worried about how secure outsourcing document shredding is then choose a mobile shredding service as you’ll be able to watch your documents being shredded on your business premises.

If you need to shred confidential business papers, speak to the team at Russell Richardson about the best service for your business—call us today on 0800 294 6552 or make an online enquiry here.

Related Articles
Related Services