We’ve all used paper shredders at one time or another. You probably used them to shred documents or sheets of waste paper to protect your privacy. But did you know you can use your paper shredder to shred cardboard, staples, and CDs too?
Read on. I will tell you all about it.
Some shredders are specifically built to shred cardboard. These tend to be heavier-duty than your average shredder. So if you are looking for a shredder that can easily shred cardboard, be sure to specify you want a cardboard shredder. A good one will easily slice three layers of hard cardboard simultaneously.
That’s not to say that an ordinary paper shredder won’t do the job. But it has to be a good quality shredder. One thing you must ensure for it to cut a hard material like cardboard is that the blades are sharp enough. Oil the blades often, and sharpen them regularly.
Using an ordinary shredder to cut cardboard is bound to dull the blade quicker, so you should inspect it after shredding to see if it needs to be resharpened. If you let the blade get too dull, the paper will start jamming as you pass it through the shredder. Oiling the blades will ensure they give the best performance.
Though the ordinary paper shredder will work just fine if it has sharp blades, I doubt it can handle frequent cardboard shredding. To shred cardboard on a regular basis, buy the special shredders which are designed to do exactly that.
Why Shred Cardboard?
Do you have lots of boxes laying around? How do you dispose of them? You can shred cardboard and do several things with it. Cardboard makes up about 30% of landfill material according to the EPA.
First, you can shred cardboard and use it as material in your compost pile. But in order to use cardboard in your compost pile, you need to break it down into smaller pieces, otherwise it won’t decompose as fast.
Second, you can shred extra cardboard boxes and use the small shavings as a packing material to protect your products. So basically shred your extra cardboard in order to reuse them.
Same as with cardboard, staples require you to purchase special more heavy duty shredders. These will slice staples and paper clips with ease, and won’t cause jams, unlike the ordinary paper shredders.
However, you should be extra careful when shopping for a heavy duty shredder. The term has over the years been misused by manufacturers, and some will plant the designation on ordinary shredders. Like most marketing buzzwords, “heavy duty” has acquired an air of ambiguity and subjectivity.
The best practice would be for you to target shredders that are explicitly designed for commercial and industrial use. More often than not, such shredders will uphold their claim to being “heavy duty”.
Another thing you can do is only select a shredder which explicitly mentions that it can shred alternative materials like cardboard, staples, and paper clips.
What do you do with your old CDs once you are done with them? Most people throw them in the dustbin. Or if you are like me, you forget about them, and they end up amassing into large quantities, and they clutter your living space. But with a good shredder, all that can be a thing of the past.
And especially, if you have sensitive information on those CDs like backups of your finances, you may be reluctant about throwing them away in the trash. And breaking them one by one is a tedious process.
The downside of shredding CDs and DVDs is the large noise produced during the process. It will also cause quite a mess, especially if the waste falls on your floor.
Can you shred CDs with your regular paper shredder? Not particularly well. And even if it does, it’s still not a good idea. Once the shredder starts operating on the disc, a sudden spray of tiny, sharp disc pieces will fly out, potentially hitting you in the face, in the eyes, and spattering on your floor.
However, you can get a shredder that is specifically designed to handle and shred CDs. Some shredder companies have rolled out machines that can handle both paper and CDs. They call them combo shredders. These will help you shred CDs you have lying around the house.
But keep in mind that paper shredders’ core purpose is to shred paper. Even the high-end shredders which are supposed to handle credit cards, CDs, DVDs, and diskettes. If you have to shred CDs, keep it to a maximum of about six or seven daily.
If you have many CDs that need to be shredded, the best thing would be to hire a shredding service. In the long run, that would be more cost-effective.
Finally, remember to check the user manual to see if the manufacturer has provided any specific guidelines on how to shred CDs and other such materials.
Conclusion on Shredding Cardboard, CDs, and Staples
We have established that, yes, paper shredders can indeed shred cardboard, staples, and CDs. But you should seek out specialized shredders which are built to handle such durable materials; otherwise, you might damage your general paper shredder.
If you have a large quantity, it may be worthwhile to seek out a local recycler or shredding service instead of using your paper shredder.