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How to Perfect Secure Recycling in the Workplace

Posted April 20, 2017 by Lynn Brown



Putting secure recycling in place is a great way to celebrate Earth Month – and to protect confidential information.

Secure recycling is recycling paper and computer equipment to support sustainability but not at the expense of information security. Paper documents, hard drives, and e-media that contain confidential information must be securely destroyed when the information is no longer needed.   

Here’s how you can have a successful and secure recycling program:  

Make recycling part of company culture. Today, every organization and individual must do their part to protect the environment. Find out what recycling services are provided in your municipality. Get the proper bins for collecting materials that can be freely recycled such as plastic, cans, and cardboard while putting a more secure program in place for paper, hard drives, and e-waste.

Remove open recycling bins. Tossing pieces of paper into an open recycling bin is a security risk. These bins (indoors and outside) are often left unattended. Also, loose paper is exposed when it is trucked to a recycling plant and sorted by un-vetted workers.

Outsource document destruction. Partner with a reliable document destruction company that provides locked consoles for the workplace and has a secure chain of custody for emptying and transporting paper documents for on- or off-site secure shredding. The company should use powerful industrial grade cross-cut shredding machines and then send the confetti-like pieces for recycling. Select the company based on strong security standards and environmental record.

Set up office recycling stations. A study that identified best practices for workplace recycling showed that easily accessible recycling stations will help increase successful participation by employees. Remove open recycling bins at desks, and instead set up recycling stations conveniently throughout the office with containers for different materials. There should be locked consoles for paper so when documents are dropped into locked consoles for secure shredding, they cannot be removed. The study also showed that labeling bins and providing different sizes of containers (smaller trash containers compared to recycling containers) helped educate employees on proper recycling. In the study, paper in the trash bin was reduced to nearly zero. 

Protect digital documents too. Use a comprehensive document management process to identify digitized confidential information and schedule it for destruction. Encourage employees to protect their hard drives and mobile devices. Rather than store or recycle legacy equipment, earmark it for secure destruction.  Your document destruction partner should provide secure hard drive and e-media destruction, and all materials should be securely recycled.

Implement a Shred-it all Policy. The risk of making a mistake with confidential information or having poor judgment is reduced when a company policy stipulates that all documents must be destroyed when they are no longer needed. A Shred-it all Policy can help simplify secure paper recycling. 

Provide on-going education. Train all employees about the role everyone plays in sustainability and information security. Use newsletters and other communications, and post reminder flyers and other signage. Share the rewards of recycling efforts too. For example, through Shred-it's secure information destruction, organizations can save one tree through recycling every time they fill up two security consoles with paper.  

For more tips on how to improve secure data recycling and sustainability during Earth Month, check out the other blogs in Shred-it's Earth Month series: 


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