Why secure document shredding is vital for your business

The world may be going digital, but paper still plays an important role in it. That means the vast majority of businesses do need to think about how to manage paper waste. For most, employing a third-party specialist company to perform secure document shredding is the only practical answer. Here are the seven main reasons why. 

It keeps you on the right side of the law

Probably the most compelling reason for undertaking routine, secure document shredding is that it keeps you on the right side of the law. Under GDPR, businesses are responsible for the security of personal data throughout its lifetime. That includes ensuring that it is suitably erased once it has reached the end of its lifecycle.

If personal data is kept on paper, then it needs to be securely shredded. It is not mandatory to shred documents without personal data. It is, however, very advisable for two main reasons.

Firstly, you cannot discount the possibility that personal data may end up where it is not supposed to be. For example, an employee may quickly note a name and phone number on a random document. Secondly, it ensures that any business-sensitive data will also be securely destroyed.

It shows that you are keeping on the right side of the law 

Using an independent third-party shredding company means you have independent confirmation that your documents were correctly shredded. As a bonus, it also saves you the hassle of keeping up to date with what the requirements are.

For example, post-Brexit, it is possible (albeit highly unlikely) that the UK will move away from the European standard for document shredding security (DIN 32757-1). It’s a lot more likely that DIN 32757-1 will be updated as technology and security develop. Keeping up with these changes is likely to be a job you don’t need (or want).

It sends a positive message to staff and customers 

By now, most people will probably have at least some levels of awareness of the consequences of poor data security. In fact, there’s a very high chance that they’ll have fallen victim to it at some point themselves. This may only have been in a very minor way. It will, however, almost certainly have heightened their awareness of the issue.

Even if they haven’t, they will probably know somebody who has. At the very least, they’ll have read about notorious data-security breaches. In fact, they’ll probably be able to recall some of the highest-profile ones. That means, they’re increasingly likely to want reassurance about how their data is handled before they give it to you.

It reduces your costs 

Directly, it eliminates your need to pay for secure document shredding equipment. It also eliminates the electricity and labour needed to run it. Indirectly it eliminates the need for space to hold the equipment. That is often a far more valuable resource than the equipment itself, particularly in cities.

It encourages you to digitise promptly 

Having a regular appointment with a third-party secure document shredding company encourages you to digitise promptly. This can mean switching from a paper-based process to a digital one. It can also mean continuing to use paper but making sure that it’s scanned as soon as possible after creation.

This in turn encourages you to think about your use of paper. As a rule of thumb, you should be aiming to eliminate it. At the same time, you probably need to accept that this just isn’t practical. In fact, possibly it never will be.

For example, right now, in the real world, collecting data on paper forms can be a lot easier than managing tablets. Also, quite a few people simply like the experience of using paper for certain tasks. This is unlikely to change so it has to be managed.

One way to do so is to give staff paper notebooks they can use for business. Then make sure they are regularly scanned and shredded. Often the easiest way to scan these notebooks is just to have Wi-Fi-enabled cameras. Employees can photograph the pages they want to keep and then shred the notebooks.

Digitising old documents 

If you’re still keeping old documents in the office, then you really shouldn’t be. Anything you need (or actively want) to keep on paper should also be scanned. Then the original should be sent to secure off-site archiving. Anything else should be scanned and securely shredded.

This isn’t just about leveraging the advantages of digitisation. These are just a pleasant bonus. This is about security and privacy. Paper documents just cannot be managed the way electronic ones can. In particular, it’s much harder to implement robust access controls. Scanning and shredding them vastly increases security (as well as convenience).

It helps with recycling 

Companies that manage secure document shredding also typically manage the recycling of the paper. Given that businesses are generally responsible for their own waste-management, this is a very useful bonus.

Recycling companies also appreciate the fact that secure document shredding companies remove debris (e.g., plastic coils and staples). Technically, staff can usually do this themselves. In reality, however, many forget. It’s, therefore, easier (albeit more expensive) to use shredders that can cope with them.

It reduces hazards 

Paper is a major health-and-safety hazard. The combustion triangle requires oxygen, a heat source (ignition) and fuel. Having oxygen in a business space is literally unavoidable. Much the same goes for heat. In warm weather, there will be heat from the sun. In cooler weather, there will be heat from radiators.

That only leaves fuel and paper is one of the best fuels there is. It’s dry, light and thin. Basically, it’s the modern equivalent of the kindling used to start coal fires (and campfires). Paper must therefore be stored with great care. The less of it you have to store, the less you have to worry about it.

Paper can also easily become a tripping hazard and a general security hazard. It’s bulky so it tends to have to be stored in out-of-the-way places. Wastepaper often ends up in bins outdoors. These can become cover for both criminals and vermin.