One of the most common ways of destroying sensitive documents is shredding. According to Paper Shredder Market Size, the market for selling shredders globally was $1.7 billion in 2018 and was expected to grow each year by 7.8% till 2025 suggesting that in 2022 the current market share is $2.3 billion. Mobile shredding services in general, according to Vantage Market Research, was valued at $2.82 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow 4.11% per year and expected to reach $3.89 billion in 2028. While this industry includes hardware shredding, document shredding is significantly more popular.
Another common method of paper destruction is incineration. According to IMARC, the total incinerator market value reached $14.35 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow 4.74% every year till 2027. This method of destruction, however, is largely used for getting rid of chemicals, medical, sewage, and biological wastes. Currently, this method is very unpopular with document destruction.
A third method of destroying paper with sensitive information is pulping. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global market value of paper and pulp was $349.18 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow 0.74% per year till 2028. This valuation, however, is based on revenue from pulp that is then formed into paper. Although some paper is formed from the pulped paper it is hard to measure how much. According to the American Forest & Paper Association, 50.48 million tons or 68% of paper generated was recycled in 2021 while 35.2 million tons or 91.4% of cardboard was recycled.
While pulping may seem like a popular method based on the amount of pulping done from old paper, one must understand that, in most cases, all paper is first shredded, then shredding companies often sell their paper shreds to paper mills that then pulp the shreds. From well kept wallet which was last updated on September 6, 2021, the average amount of pay one gets per ton of paper when selling to recycling/pulping companies is between $50 to $75. It is likely that shredding companies are the biggest contributors to recycled paper. If all recycled paper was bought for that price, the total payout would be between $2.5 to $3.7 billion. With shredding services assessed at $2.82 billion in 2022 and if 99% of shredding companies sell their paper shreds to paper mills, it would suggest a major part of their valuation is in selling their paper shreds.
Overall, paper shredding is the most popular method of destroying sensitive paper documents. While pulping is almost as popular, it is generally only done after sensitive documents have been shredded. Incineration is generally used more for getting rid of other wastes besides paper. The reason sensitive documents are often destroyed by shredding is likely due to the fact that shredding can be done inexpensively and conveniently with a shredder. Moreover, shredding companies have the advantage of selling their paper shreds to paper mills giving them additional revenue.