How to buy - Shredders

Prunings, expired plants and other green waste are best dealt with by a shredder, says Sally Drury.

Bear Cat shredder - image: HW
Bear Cat shredder - image: HW

Q: Do I really need a shredder?

A: Waste minimisation programmes can help lesson the burden, but at some point we have to tackle prunings, expired bedding plants, pulled weeds and other green waste. Shredders are ideal machines for processing this type of waste, reducing the volume for transport or preparing them for composting.

Q: Should I opt for a shredder, a chipper or a combination machine?

A: Woodchippers are designed for reducing timber and woody material into woodchips. A shredder is used where the material is soft, most probably green and perhaps wet or contaminated with soil and stones.

Bedding plants, hedge and shrub trimmings, brambles and cut herbaceous material should go through a shredder. If you want to process timber, you need a separate woodchipper or combined chipper/shredder. Many commercial shredders also process waste cardboard. Some industrial units will even take timber and wooden pallets.

Q: What factors should be considered when choosing a shredder?

A: Whether you maintain private gardens, deal with waste from a large estate or have to manage material generated from across a borough, there is a machine to suit.

You need to match the size and productivity of the equipment to the volumes of waste being produced and consider how mobile the unit needs to be. Do you need a large machine at a central point or would it be better to move the shredder to the waste and process material where prunings and other material are generated? Site terrain will determine whether a wheeled or tracked model is most appropriate.

Size counts. Shredders range from small units that fit in the back of a van for use by contractors maintaining private gardens through to medium-sized machines suited to waste reduction on larger estates and huge industrial units used by local authorities to process material on a district-wide scale.

It is also important consider how the machine will be powered. For the professional, there are obvious limitations if the shredder needs mains electricity. Even for the gardener with a domestic round, there will sometimes be problems ensuring access to a socket.

If you work on one site such as a college campus or golf course and have a tractor to spare at various times of the year, you could opt for a PTO-powered shredder and take advantage of the lower price. If you need a machine to process large volumes of material and tour several sites once or twice a year, you will be better off with a truck-mounted unit. And, most likely, it will be worthwhile looking into hire charges, unless you want to buy and lease it to others.

Q: Do I need personal protective equipment to operate a shredder?

A: The operation brings a risk of flying debris, including irritants and sharp objects, so it is important to wear a helmet and visor. You should wear close fitting clothing, such as coveralls.

Never wear loose clothing that could become caught in the shredding mechanism. Ear defenders are likely to be a requirement. Gloves will be needed for some material - especially briars and thorny waste.

Q: Are there any new brands of shredder available in the UK?

A: This year, Ryetec Industrial Equipment of North Yorkshire introduced the full range of Bugnot green waste and contaminated wood shredders. These machines are available in a range of sizes with either engineor tractor-driven units capable of handling material up to 200mm in diameter.

All Bugnot machines feature a power feed system, optional full hopper floor conveyors and an upper toothed intake conveyor for really difficult-to-feed material. They have sharpened hammer flails and a heavy-duty shredding drum so they can take wood contaminated with metal, stones, soil and other nasties.

Other features include optional self-loading cranes for larger models and rubber-tracked smaller versions for areas where access is difficult.

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