Do free shredding services really exist?

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Some companies think that do-it-yourself, in-house shredding is an inexpensive way to deal with documents that are no longer needed. In reality, there really is no such thing as ‘free’ shredding.

When a company’s own employees are tasked with shredding documents, the risk of data breaches will increase and workplace productivity will also suffer.

Here are a few things to consider before considering do-it-yourself shredding.



There is an upfront and then on-going maintenance cost for an in-house shredder. Designating a shredding area and teaching employees the process for shredding documents are cost factors as well.


Employees have to remove paper clips and staples (as most office shredders can’t handle anything but paper), arrange documents into easily-shredded portions, manually feed paper into the machine, empty receptacles as they fill up, remove any spillage, and put shredded paper into a dumpster.


In-house shredding takes employees away from their real jobs which amounts to more money spent. For example: If five employees had to spend at least five minutes per day and a total of 550 minutes per month shredding, this would equate to a monthly labor cost of $307.35 and an annual bill of $3688.20.1


A 2016 study showed that a heavy workload was the main source of work stress for 36% of employees.2 Earlier research showed that work overload can actually decrease productivity by 68%.3


Employees who are not trained properly to handle confidential documents or who simply cannot be bothered and may even put documents straight into the garbage un-shredded put the company at a higher risk of experiencing a data breach.

Additionally, inexpensive in-house shredders are usually strip shredders that produce strips that can be reconstructed. A 2018 Ponemon Report showed that the average cost of a data breach globally is $3.86 million, a 6.4% increase from the 2017 figure. U.S. companies experienced the highest average cost of a breach at $7.91 million.4

1. The Hidden Costs of Do-It-Yourself Shredding Fact Sheet, Shred-it
2. Stats and Facts About Work Stress to Consider in 2018, Meditation at
3. The State of Workplace Productivity Research, 2014, Cornerstone of Demand
4. 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study, Ponemon

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