Cardboard is used as a shipping and transportation container within every industry, and numerous varieties of cardboard are used as containers to transport items such as lamps, shoes, culinary supplies, electronics, and even other cardboard boxes. When these containers are no longer usable but free from any contaminants, it can be recycled.
Cardboard is a material derived from paper and consists of multiple layers, which makes it sturdy and thus suitable for carrying heavy loads of items. Constructing packaging cardboard involves the placement of a wavy or corrugated cardboard piece between two pieces which are flat and thicker, and joined together with an adhesive. While this material makes a cardboard box durable and reliable for transporting items, the cardboard material can be difficult to break down when the packaging is no longer usable. Therefore, cardboard shredders are utilized to alleviate the hassle of breaking down this tough material.
Used across countless industries for shipping, storage, displays, and many other applications, it's rare to see a company which doesn't find itself dealing with cardboard in one way or another. Cardboard stands out as a durable, reliable material that's nonetheless inexpensive, lightweight, and relatively easy to recycle or dispose of. That’s where shredders come in.
The same sturdy construction which makes cardboard a valuable asset in transportation and storage can also make it a hassle to deal with when its role is complete. Traditional paper shredders can rarely deal with the size, strength, or bulk involved in cardboard shredding.
Cardboard Shredders – Shred-Tech
Cardboard Shredders – Shred-Tech
Applications and Industries
Cardboard cutters and more general purpose industrial paper shredders have a variety of applications, depending on the specific needs to the company. Generally, the primary goal of a cardboard shredder is to convert cardboard packaging or other cardboard structures into a form that's easier to transport and manage in bulk.
Some companies use shredders to eliminate and recycle waste cardboard, while others might need to cut up heavier duty office materials for security reasons.
The end goal for the produced cardboard waste may also vary across companies; some companies may wish to immediately recycle their waste cardboard, while others may simply wish to dispose of it in an easy manner.
Shredders may also be used as part of a general document destruction service, in which case the client company need not purchase its own shredders. It merely hires the services of a third party, which owns the necessary equipment to come through handling all manner of paper waste, from documents to packages.
Because cardboard is nearly universal across all industries, shredders see use across nearly every industry, from manufacturing to finance. The only question is whether or not a particular company shreds enough cardboard to warrant a special piece of equipment for the task. Special needs such as the aforementioned security concerns may also make a cardboard shredder a smart purchase.
History of Shredders
For as long as cardboard has been used in industry, it's been necessary to dispose of it in an effective and efficient way. While it's hard to pin down a date on the invention of paper shredders designed specifically for cardboard, the earliest paper shredder design dates back to a patent filed in 1909, while the earliest to be manufactured and utilized dates to a 1935 paper shredder built by Adolf Ehinger. The original shredding machines were based on a hand-crank pasta maker and was supposedly put to use hiding anti-Nazi propaganda for Ehinger's safety.
Ehinger later sold his cardboard shredders to various agencies and institutions, moving from hand cranks to electric motors. 24 years later his company began manufacturing the earliest cross cut shredders.
Increasing security concerns, recycling initiatives, and other factors have contributed to make highly efficient, effective, and secure cardboard cutting equipment increasingly important to many companies, making additional features for security and ease of use common in newer shredders of paper and cardboard.
Design and Customization
What design aspects go into selecting a shredder? Different companies have significantly different application considerations when choosing a cardboard shredder, which in turn informs the specific machinery they'll need. At the most basic level, you'll need to choose the type of cut you're looking for. These include, but aren't limited to:
- Strip-cut shredder. The simplest form of shredder, this cuts materials fed through it along their length, producing long ribbons of shredded material. These offer higher efficiency and reduced upkeep compared to alternatives, but they don't adequately destroy documents or sensitive information if security is a consideration.
- Cross-cut shredder. Also known as a particle shredder or confetti shredder, these cut your cardboard across length and width as it is fed through, producing small pieces of shredded material. The smaller the cuts, the longer processing will take and the more upkeep your machine will require—in return, you'll see far superior security for sensitive information which may be printed on your cardboard.
- Micro-cut shredder. You'll see this term used as an alternative to other cuts, but it's still essentially a cross-cut shredder. The difference lay in the size of the cuts; the particles produced by a micro cut shredder are even smaller, and thus even more secure. As you might expect, these run the slowest and require the most attention of the common cardboard shredder types.
Of course, this is just one aspect of the decision. Small office shredders and immense industrial shredders may both be 'cardboard shredders', but they fulfill entirely different goals. You'll need to know input and output volume, the frequency of operation, and where you want to install your shredder in addition to the cut type.
You could also leave the hard thinking to your supplier or service provider, so long as you take the time to carefully assess your needs. Take the time to get an accurate picture of your needs and communicate clearly with the manufacturer, and they should be able to help you figure out the fine details.
The exact approach to handling cardboard with appropriate equipment will vary wildly depending on the needs of your company and the equipment at hand. Destroying heavy duty cardboard boxes in bulk on a daily basis will naturally require different tools and approaches than handling the occasional box or heavy duty poster on a case by case basis.
The actual use of shredding machines remains the same no matter the scale, however; whether the cardboard is delivered in heavy bulk to an enormous shredder via conveyors and hoppers or fed in manually to a small office shredder, the cardboard will pass through, be cut into smaller pieces, and pass back out to the other side to be stored, transported away, or recycled as appropriate.
Other equipment/tools used with shredders. Depending on the needs of your company, in addition to the shredders you may need tools for organizing, packaging waste, feeling bulk in and out, and so on and so forth. You may also want to implement different tools to help maintain data security in case of sensitive data on shredded cardboard.
Some document destruction services utilize completely different equipment from what a company might use for in-house cardboard destruction, as well. Instead of purchasing the equipment to destroy cardboard from time to time, it may be more feasible for many companies to instead hire a company with a mobile shredding station to stop by and destroy all paper and cardboard you need destroyed on some consistent basis.
Choosing Your Approach
Putting aside the question of volume, there are two different approaches to consider: purchasing and operating your own cardboard shredder, and hiring a document destruction service. The latter can come in several forms; a dumpster that's picked up for processing on some regular schedule, a mobile truck that shreds your documents securely on-site, etc. It's a good option if your cardboard handling needs are inconsistent or irregular in some way.
Benefits and Advantages of Processing Cardboard
The most straightforward benefit to processing cardboard lay in the improved efficiency it offers. Shredded cardboard is easier to store, easier to transport for disposal, and easier to recycle. This in turn means your employees will spend less time fighting boxes after they finish with them, and more time on important tasks. It means less fuel wasted on transporting waste, less manpower on carting it around, less wear and tear on the machinery that processes it, and less space taken up storing it in the interim.
Security can be greatly enhanced through the use of shredders, in the same way that normal paper shredders can help clean up potential leaks of sensitive information. Whether you invest in in-house equipment or a third party document destruction service equipped for cardboard, you can greatly limit liability and exposure to leaks through good practices. Materials of note include packages with printed shipping information or other documentation on the box, cardboard documents and posters used for in-house demonstrations, and similar items.
Versatility in how you deal with paper waste may also be a worthwhile benefit. A normal office paper shredder can't deal with cardboard, but a heavy duty cardboard shredder can tackle any form of paper you may need to dispose of. Being able to disassemble packages, posters, stacks of paper documentation, and other items in a single machine can be helpful in keeping your office operating smoothly.
Other Things to Consider
Depending on who will be using your cardboard shredder and how frequently, ease of use may be a high priority. You can utilize more complex solutions if you're going to be handling bulk cardboard under the supervision of a team member familiar with the tools. You may need something far easier if it's going to be used for occasional small-scale processing by various employees as needed.
While a highly effective and efficient cardboard shredder can improve your bottom line by cutting down on inefficiencies in the way you deal with waste cardboard, it doesn't make sense to invest an excessive amount into a tool that's going to see minimal use. There are any number of ways to match your budget to your gains in a sensible way; consider different technologies, upgrading over time, or outsourcing your cardboard shredding to a document destruction firm.
Cutting cardboard isn't quite as easy as dealing with normal paper, which means your cardboard shredder will frequently need mechanical attention and various forms of upkeep. The specifics vary across models and how fine the cuts made will be. In particular, strip-cut shredders usually operate for lengthy periods of time with little to no maintenance, even under heavy usage, and don't require oil under normal circumstances. Micro-cut shredders on the opposite end of the spectrum will require far more attention and will need regular oil.
In some cases, cardboard materials can present a hazard for disposal, making it even more important that you handle it properly. For example, packaging used for any biological materials—be it food items, medical goods, or anything else—can become host and food for pests and various contaminants. Proper disposal of your cardboard as a safety measure makes sense—just make sure any additional necessary measures are also being taken.
Choosing the Right Supplier or Shredder
When it comes to purchasing a cardboard shredder, don't try to find an objective 'best' supplier or shredding service provider. Instead, figure out who can meet your specific needs most effectively. If you need sporadic small scale shredding, go with a supplier of normal office level shredders. If you need sporadic shredding but at a high volume, consider instead hiring a document shredding service. And if you need constant high volume, go for a supplier of industrial grade shredders.
To boil down your considerations to a few factors:
- Volume. How much cardboard will you need to process when you're processing cardboard?
- Security. How finely shredded does your cardboard need to be, and are you worried about outside eyes seeing your packaging?
- Regularity. Will you be processing daily? Weekly? Monthly? Annually?
- Goal. Are you processing to get rid of sensitive information, to make cardboard easier to store and transport, or to prepare for recycling?
Figure out those factors, and a bit of homework and a quick conversation with a supplier or manufacturer should be able to guide you to the right product for your needs. Just make sure you're choosing the right manufacturer, supplier, or service provider to make your business operate smoothly.