Box shredder promotes recycling and job training

An industrial cardboard shredder being used at Goodwill NCW’s Shiner Center in Appleton not only repurposes recyclable materials, saving money and resources, but it also provides job-training opportunities for program participants.

It’s a win-win for Goodwill’s Mission Services and E-commerce teams that has the opportunity for more growth.

Jamie uses the industrial cardboard shredder at the Shiner Center in Appleton.

Using the cardboard boxes Goodwill receives from donations to its 27 retail stores and training centers and Outlet Store, participants in the Contractivity! program prep the pieces for the shredder and feed it into the machine, turning the cardboard into pliable waffleboard that is then used by the E-Commerce team when packaging online orders for shipment.

About 25 program participants are trained to work the machine, which runs five to eight hours a day. Program participants, who face barriers to employment, receive job-training benefits. The machine is workable for all ages, there isn’t much weight involved and nonverbal program participants and varying abilities can run it.

“It’s great for some of our participants who struggle with other jobs,” said Paul Brunette, leader of Contractivity! and GoodWipers. “This is a pretty easy one to show and explain. There are still several steps to it, which is really good. The team sees the value in the recycling of the product.

“It’s just a great benefit for the team,” Paul said.

Once an industrial-size rolling cart is filled, a Contractivity! program participant transports it to E-Commerce.

When Jen Ainsworth, leader of E-Commerce, bought the shredder for $1,500 in October 2018, she saw the environmental, cost-saving and job-training potential in the machine.

“We are repurposing materials we get a lot of,” Jen said. “We are giving it one more life before it gets recycled.

“The more we can depend on donated or lower-cost materials, the less we are going to be spending on packing materials, particularly nonrecyclable materials.”

In 2018, E-Commerce spent $56,000 on packing materials, including biodegradable packing peanuts. It is on target to save $14,000 in 2019 alone, with the potential for saving more.

Where they once went through four bags of packing peanuts a day at $27 a unit, E-Commerce now is going through four industrial-size carts’ worth of pliable waffleboard a day.

“We’ve already seen huge impact in the orders of peanuts alone,” Jen said.

“The cardboard has done a lot,” said Travis Nagle, E-Commerce assistant team leader. “They are able to use the cardboard with the peanuts to make even better packing material.”

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a not-for-profit human services organization that believes in Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. Goodwill NCW is one of four companies in the nation to be honored with a Platinum Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America, which recognizes our commitment to wellness in the workplace. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, a unique shopping experience at its Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at, a women’s apparel website, and It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit


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