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Where Can I Shred Paper for Free?

If you are like most people you understand the importance of destroying sensitive paper documents before you dispose of them. Even so, according to the Federal Trade Commission, roughly 9 million Americans have their identity stolen every year. This statistic means it is likely you or someone you know has been a victim.

You may be wondering, is document shredding ever free? The quick answer is sometimes.  The chart above outlines the most common shredding options available to the public. The list of options, including free shredding, appears along with the factors that matter most to people who take shredding seriously. Each option is then ranked with a numerical value for your analysis. Knowing where to turn as well as the associated risk will help you make right decision when it’s time for you to part with your sensitive paperwork.


Over–the–Counter Shredding at a Retail Store 

Cost (1) 

  • Generally $1.00-$1.49 per pound
  • No discounts or routine subscriptions

Compliance (1)

  • Uncertified workers handling your sensitive documents
  • No process to ensure when or if your documents are securely shredded

Convenience (2)  

  • Finding a location near you may be a challenge
  • Limited to their business hours, not what‘s most convenient for you
  • May have to wait in line

Eco-Friendly (1) 

  • May or may not be recycled


Over the counter shredding continues to be one of the most common solutions for people purging documents. However, this drop off shredding service offers no trackable process and allows employees who are not trained in information security handle your sensitive documents. As such, over the counter shredding earns a 4 out of 12 based on the higher cost, possible inconvenience, lack of compliance and unknown impact to the environment.

Small Home Office Shredder

If you’ve done any research on how to securely dispose of your documents then you’ve likely looked into purchasing a home office shredder. This solution certainly isn’t free, can be time consuming, and frankly makes a mess. Add to these challenges, that the end product is too small to be recycled and you can add not environmentally friendly to the list. You typically have to replace an at home office shredder every year or two due to lack of maintenance, factory malfunctions, and over usage.

Aside from saving yourself the cost and hassle of purchasing or maintaining a small office shredder, you also eliminate the labor. Do you really want to spend your valuable time standing in front of a non-commercial office shredder feeding document after document? Small home office shredders are known to be slow and finicky. In addition, you’ll be forced to sort through the entire stack to remove paper clips and staples. These factors combined rank the small home office shredder at 5 out of 12.

Cost (1)

  • Anywhere between $50-$250
  • Oil to lubricate the machine as needed ($10-$16 per bottle)
  • Replace every year or two

Compliance (2)

  • No chain of custody or release of liability
  • Documents often sit unsecured until you find time to shred them
  • No certificate of destruction.

Convenience (2)

  • Small in size can fit underneath your desk
  • Jams and malfunctions
  • Lubricate monthly


Eco Friendly (1)

  • Paper not recycled due to size and shape of output


Free Community Shredding Event 

Shred events are popular in most communities. If you are lucky enough to be invited to one these events offer participants a mostly secure and some-what environmentally friendly way to get rid of unwanted paperwork that contains personal, and financial information. Business sponsored free shred events are great if you don’t have much to shred and you’re willing to store your documents until an event near you pops up. However, these events can be hard to find and ultimately must fit into your schedule since they are date and time specific.

Outside of the price—FREE—this service may not be so ideal. If you are bringing business documents to shred at a free event, you might want to reconsider. Businesses are required by law to retain client, employee, and company information for a specific amount of time. Once this period has reached the end of its lifespan, the documents must be securely shredded. To remain compliant with privacy and security laws, it is highly recommended that your business obtains a certificate of destruction after each shredding service so you can avoid any legal action if some sort of data breach occurs. With all factors considered, we rate this shredding service a 6 out of 12.

Cost (3)

  • “Free” but you likely pay for services to the Company who is hosting the event

Compliance (1)

  • No certificate of destruction
  • A lot of people involved in the process; long chain of custody that is difficult to track

Convenience (1)

  • Wait in long lines to get your documents shredded
  • Finding an event that fits into your schedule
  • Paper piles up in your home or office (data breach)
  • Due to COVID-19 less events being held

Eco Friendly (2) 

  • The paper may or may not be recycled

Commercially Certified Shredding

Outsourcing your shredding needs is another viable option when it comes to properly destroying unwanted documents.

Data security experts have rich experience and special training to manage end of life information in accordance with the industry’s highest standards. If you decide that a commercial shredding service suits you best, make sure you select a company that is certified by the National Association of Information Destruction (NAID). Earning NAID certification is a rigorous process that verifies a data destruction company can check all the right boxes including background checks, secured trucks and facilities, and written procedures for all their services.

Cost (2)

  • Prices  will vary depending on the provider
  • Discounts and routine pricing may exist
  • You get what you pay for; quality and secure shredding


Compliance (3) 

  • Certificate of destruction
  • NAID certified
  • BBB Accreditation
  • HIPPA compliant
  • FISMA compliant
  • FACTA compliant
  • GLBA compliant
  • Up to date on certifications
  • Maintain strict regulations + rules

Convenience (3)

  • You pay for a service that is tailored to your needs
  • Once the service agreement is signed you sit back and let the company do the work
  • Systematic

Eco Friendly (3)

  • 100% recycled
  • Converted into tissuing + toweling

If you want to check all of the boxes, commercially certified shredding is certainly an option. Do your research and see if it represents the best fit for the situation at hand. With all of its features, we rank this service 11 of 12.

Shred Vault 

Shred Vault is the first compliant, trackable small business and consumer based shredding solution ever offered. With the user-friendly app, multiple convenient drop off locations, exclusive coupons, and eco friendliness you may not be able to beat it.

If you value proof that the shredding was done and would like to have a certificate of destruction consider Shred Vault®. Shred Vault is good for the one time job as well as for repeat service. It’s as little or as much as you’d like to shred when you are ready and without having to schedule a pick up or wait. Shred Vault is a revolutionary shredding service is as simple as 1,2,3

  1. Order a Shred Vault Bag online or through the mobile app.
  2. Fill your Shred Vault Bag with up to 10 lbs of paper and then seal it
  3. Deposit at a local Shred Vault Kiosk.

This service is a great alternative if you do not want to wait for a free shredding event and need a convenient, affordable, and secure solution that comes with tracking, a certificate of destruction, and all the other benefits of commercially certified shredding.

Cost (2) 

  • Pay for a subscription service
  • One time purchase
  • Discounts offered
  • Exclusive coupons to businesses where you deposit your bag
  • The more you buy, the lower the cost per bag

Compliance (3)

  • Certificate of destruction
  • NAID certified
  • BBB Accreditation
  • HIPPA compliant
  • FISMA compliant
  • FACTA compliant
  • GLBA compliant
  • Up to date on certifications
  • Maintain strict regulations + rules

Convenience (3)

  • Shred on your time
  • Control the frequency of your service—only pay for what you need
  • Multiple conveniently located Shred Vault Kiosks
  • Certificate of destruction sent directly to your email
  • Purchase in store or online

Eco Friendly (3)

  • 100% recycled
  • Converted into tissuing + toweling

This option is compliant, convenient and environmentally sound. With all its features and benefits Shred Vault ranks 11 out of 12.


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Trusted by organizations and homes concerned about security.

Hard Drive and Electronic Destruction is also available.