Basic Information Guide

Basic introduction to shedders and how to choose what will suit your environment for destroying of paper information

With the recent introduction of the POPI Act, the shredder is being recognized as the first line of defense to protect against information loss and fraudulent activity

Cut, shred, destroy

The right to privacy is regarded as serious business in South Africa. This includes the right to protection against the unlawful collection, retention, dissemination and use of any individual’s personal information.

The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act was created to do just that – protect your personal information. It will do this by regulating the way in which personal information may be processed by establishing conditions that prescribe the minimum requirements to be considered lawful.

Basically, what this means is that companies have to receive consent from individuals before they can obtain and retain their personal information for communication or any other purpose. “Personal information” includes contact details, demographic information, personal history as well as communication records.

By meeting the requirements of POPI, businesses will not only be complying with legislation, but also adding value to their trade and earning the respect and loyalty of the consumers they market to.

The route to understanding the implications and preparing an organization for compliance with POPI means businesses will be in the market for a shredder.

While the basic design of a paper shredder is the same whether it is a desktop version or an industrial shredder, there are a range of considerations that businesses must take into account in order to get the right tool for the job.

When picking out a new shredder it must first be decided how much paper it can handle, what type of shred is needed, if it can handle materials other than paper, if it is a name brand and therefore carries a warranty, and most importantly, does it meet adequate security conditions required by the new legislation.


Most office environments end up shredding approximately twice the amount of paper they think they will after purchasing a shredder. A more accurate estimate of how many sheets will need to be shredded per day and how many sheets the shredder should be able to handle at a time is an important first question. A small personal paper shredder which may only be able to shred one to five pieces of paper at once, over 20 uses per day, will work for a small home office. A heavy volume industrial shredder can shred between 5 000 and 36 000 sheets of paper a day, depending on its configuration. The majority of SMEs see a need for somewhere in the middle; one which can shred 50 to 100 sheets of paper each day.


Most basic paper shredders use a strip cut system, which turns each sheet of paper into thin ribbons. High security shredders use a cross-cut mechanism, which twists the paper while cutting it, reducing it to small scraps. These are essential for handling especially sensitive material. In some cases, a shredder can handle more than paper; for example, diskettes, compact discs, cardboard or credit cards can also be shredded.


Most shredders only handle paper up to legal size. Ask your supplier for alternatives if you handle confidential material of tabloid size or larger.


The quality of the paper shredder and the warranty is important. Is the motor strong? How well it will hold up in the long term? What is the proper care and how can it be used most effectively?


Most shredders are referred to as straight cut, and consists of a series of blades that will slice through a document either vertically or horizontally. This can protect information from casual perusal, though it often is not enough for the privacy concerns of a business. Documents that are cut into uniform strips may be reassembled given enough time and effort.

Cross-cut shredders typically include perpendicularly opposed blades that can make a series of both horizontal and vertical cuts. This can result in thin, short shreds of paper that are difficult to obtain any useful information from. Confetti shredders work in a similar way and can reduce documents to tiny scraps of paper.

An even more secure method of shredding is referred to as micro cut, which results in pieces so small it would be nearly impossible to obtain information from them. Choosing the best type of cut pattern will depend on how important information security is to a business.

Security for business just became very important. POPI was signed into law

in November 2013, and is expected to become effective in the next few months.

  • SmartLock engages with each shred cycle to protect confidential information;
  • SilentShred offers ultra- quiet performance for shared workspaces;
  • An energy saving Sleep Mode
  • A shredder offers a measure of security. It is therefore logical to start the discussion around the purchase of a shredder with the question: “how much security do you need?”
  • In simple terms, a straight cut shredder cuts an A4 piece of paper into 36 strips. A cross-cut shredder cuts an A4 page into 300 to 400 pieces.
  • A micro cut shredder cuts one A4 page into 2 000, and a super micro cut shredder cuts a page into 6 000 pieces.

There is no such thing as a POPI compliant shredder,” according to research. “The POPI legislation calls for businesses and organizations to set up and implement a policy with regards to the processing, storage and destruction of personal information. The Act does not specify appropriate levels of security for the secure shredding of paperwork. Information by its very nature has differing levels of confidentiality. It is up to each organization to define adequate security as part of their POPI compliance policy and practices. Credit Applications typically include company information as well as a certain amount of personal information which according to the Act requires a higher level of security. Staff salaries, wages, retirement information or CVs will need a higher level of shredding security than would general office communications. The Act does not set these ‘appropriate’ levels of shredding security. It is up to vendors and dealers in the supply chain to assist in recommending appropriate shredding security levels.

“Some organizations make use of outsourced bulk shredding services which seem to offer a secure solution, but how secure is it? Bulk shredders are mounted on the back of trucks. Paperwork therefore needs to be securely controlled from the office to the basement pick up point. Bulk shredders tear paperwork into 10mm to 12mm strips. Does tearing an A4 page into 20 strips satisfy the requirement for secure destruction?”

“Our belief is that personal information should be destroyed with, at the very least, a cross-cut shredder. Our Auto+range of shredders provide an ideal and secure solution when used in support of a POPI compliance policy. Auto+ 60 page and 80 page shredders situated at the desk side of low volume users provide immediate and secure destruction of paperwork. For higher volume desk side users we offer the Auto+ 100 page or 200 page models. For users in larger shared offices we offer the Auto+ 300 page, 500 page or 750 page which feature a lockable chamber ensuring that the paperwork remains secure until the shredding cycle is completed. Auto+ shredders save time as the user does not need to stand and feed. Auto+ shredders are quiet and therefore do not disturb the working environment. Simply load the machine, start the shred cycle and get on with whatever needs doing next. How long will it take to shred 750 sheets? You don’t care because you’re not there.”

DigiShred supplies a range of shredders catering for the modern market where users need to save energy and cost. With a vast range of shredding machines for home and personal use ranging up to industrial and recycling operations.

According to POPI, personal information of a confidential matter should be shredded at a minimum standard cross- cut level where pieces of the document cannot be pasted together. DigiShred supplies shredders with a security level from one to seven, and cut sizes ranging from 12mm to 0,8mm by 2mm.

The range of shredders available in the marketplace includes technological features such as energy saving, touch panel operations and auto oiling features. Shredders in the range are capable of destroying paper, CDs, credit cards, floppy discs, cardboard, textiles, leather.

Above information is based on research on various sites in order to assist you with basic information regarding the need of having a shredder in your business or institution.

Get in touch with our team to help you establish your requirements