Paper Shredders 101 – What To Know

Paper shredders are an important part of any office. Do your customers require you to work under a non-disclosure agreement? Have you looked at it closely to understand what is really saying? See, in some cases, anything relating to your customer’s marketing could fall into a non-disclosure agreement. If you have wasted, it needs to be destroyed. If you write a credit card number on a piece of paper, it needs to be destroyed. Paper shredders protect you and your customer when the paper is properly destroyed.

So, what kinds of paper shredders are out there?

While most commercial paper shredders on the market today offer basic security features, there are several different types of paper shredders that vary in size and shredding capabilities for extended privacy and security benefits. The standard levels of paper shredders as set by the DIN 32757-1 standards include:

Level 1 = 12 mm strips OR 11 x 40mm particles (General)
Level 2 = 6 mm strips OR 8 x 40mm particles (General)
Level 3 = 2 mm strips OR 4 x 30mm particles (Confidential)
Level 4 = 2 x 15 mm particles (Commercially Sensitive)
Level 5 = 0.8 x 12 mm particles (Top Secret or Classified)
Level 6 = 0.8 x 4 mm particles (Top Secret or Classified)

The levels of security are assumed to be measured by the amount of entropy a paper shredder can produce. As there are different levels of security that a paper shredder can qualify for, there are many different types of paper shredders and applications of use that a paper shredder can offer.

Strip-cut paper shredders

These use rotating knives (blades) to cut the paper down into strips. These types of shredders are for simple use applications such as waste reduction or recycling purposes (known as animal bedding). Paper shredders that only provide a strip-cut function offer the least amount of security and privacy protection.

Cross-cut paper shredders

The machine uses rotating knives like the strip-cut paper shredders; however, they often use multiple blades to create a more profound randomness of shredding.

Particle-cut paper shredders

These shred paper into small pieces (usually in circles or squares) and offer a higher level of security than standard strip or cross-cut shredders.

Pierce and tear paper shredders

As the description suggests, it literally rips paper or documents through a puncture and tear method of shredding. These types of paper shredders use a rotating band of special blades to accomplish proper paper shredding tasks.


The Terminator of paper shredders. This paper shredder continually cuts paper in a random fashion until the document is destroyed enough to pass through a mesh or screen. These types of paper shredders often offer some of the highest levels of security in document destruction.

To extend the protection of shredded documents a papermasher bag is often used to provide a secondary level of security with a paper shredder. A papermasher bag is a bag that is designed to be washed with shredded documents inside. Once a papermasher bag has gone through a rinse cycle (typically in a washing machine) the shredded documents become an illegible heap of paper pulp.

So, if your document security is something you are lacking, this is how to evaluate exactly what you need.

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