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An industrial shredder is a piece of heavy equipment capable of shedding dense and strong materials like rubber tires, plastic containers, and large volumes of cardboard and paper. Shredders may prepare materials for recycling or final disposal and are typically found at recycling and processing facilities. A number of companies manufacture industrial shredders and related supplies and some may offer lease and rental equipment for settings where a company has a temporary need for an industrial shredder but does not want to buy one.
The shredder uses very robust, sharp blades and a strong engine to thoroughly shred all materials fed into it. The design is often similar to that of an office paper shredder, except that it is capable of handling materials many magnitudes of size larger. Recycling companies use an industrial shredder to create shredded bales of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glassware, and other materials so they can be sent to other facilities to prepare them for reuse. Shredders are also useful for destroying materials before disposal in a landfill or similar environment.
Some shredders can be used to prepare materials for final uses like mulching and insulating. The use of recycled materials to mulch flowerbeds, insulate homes, and provide materials for paths and walks is increasingly common around the world. Reusing materials can reduce demand on natural resources and provide an environmentally friendly way for disposing of materials that are no longer useful. Things like rubber mulch, for example, can be useful on a playground to keep weeds down and provide a soft surface for landing on in the event of falls.
Recycling companies accept materials from a variety of sources, including consumers with contracts for recycling services as well as companies that may produce large volumes of materials for recycling. The company can send trucks to pick up supplies or accept deliveries, and passes them through the shredder once it accumulates enough. Industrial shredders can be seen in use in facilities like scrap metal processors, where the device chews through steel and other metals to prepare them for recycling; some industrial shredders are even capable of eating whole cars and trucks.
Working around an industrial shredder can be very dangerous. This heavy equipment is capable of amputating limbs or decapitating heads, and workers need to be extremely careful around it. Most machines have emergency shutoffs that anyone can activate in the event of a problem. Workers typically wear snug protective clothing to minimize injuries from flying materials while reducing dangling material or hair that might catch in the industrial shredder and expose the worker to injury.