Summarizing the Shredder Market

Sep 26, 2014

Automobile shredders are the rock stars of scrap-processing equipment. No other recycling machinery captures the imagination or garners as much attention as shredders. Maybe they’re so impressive due to their sheer size: An entire shredding system can be larger than a house and longer than a football field. Maybe they draw their mystique from their awesome power, with which they can reduce car hulks to fist-sized chunks of metal in seconds. Then there’s a shredder’s equally awe-inspiring cost, which can surpass $30 million for the largest, most sophisticated systems, not to mention the almost-magical ability of a shredding system to separate a stream of mixed materials into clean, sorted commodities. For scrap companies, installing a shredder is a peak experience, one that allows them to compete at a whole other level. When you shred, in other words, you’ve reached the top of the scrap-processing game.

Given shredders’ allure, it’s no wonder trade publications have tallied them and published lists of shredder installations for decades. Changes in the number, size, type, and geographic location of shredders not only indicate trends in the shredding niche but also can suggest the overall health of the scrap industry. From roughly 2001 to 2010, for example, growth in the installation of large shredders was a sign that processors wanted to shred more scrap that previously was sheared and boost their throughput tonnage to meet higher demand for low-residual frag. In more recent years, the large-shredder trend has slowed, and smaller shredders have gained popularity by allowing operators with modest input tonnage—and more limited financial resources—to enter the shredding fray. Some of those operators have bypassed installing a traditional stationary shredder altogether in favor of a mobile shredder. 

Scrap’s updated shredder list, which appears in the September/October 2014 edition, identifies 356 shredders in North America: 312 in the United States, 28 in Canada, and 16 in Mexico. In the U.S. market, which saw the most change in the three years since Scrap last updated its list, Texas has the most shredders, 31; Florida is second with 19; and Ohio and Tennessee are tied for third, each with 15 shredders. Notably, 12 states, or 24 percent, have more than 10 shredders. In terms of companies, The David J. Joseph Co. (Cincinnati) and its subsidiaries claim the top spot, with 16 shredders; Alter Metal Recycling (St. Louis) is second with 12; and OmniSource Corp. (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Sims Metal Management (New York) tie for third, each with 11. Consult our shredder list for more facts on the state of the shredder market, and contact me at regarding any additions, deletions, or changes. Shred on!

Kent Kiser is the publisher of Scrap magazine and ISRI’s assistant vice president of communications. For more information, email him at This article originally appeared in Scrap magazine’s September/October 2014 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Have Questions?