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Celebrate Earth Day: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and Protect Paper Documents

Posted April 19, 2018 by Lynn Brown

Piece of Green Paper that Says "Save Paper, Save Trees"
Paper recycling is one of the easiest ways a workplace can support Earth Day and help protect the environment.

Started in 1970, Earth Day is always on April 22, and today over 1 billion people in more than 192 countries participate in all of the different green initiatives. The event has grown to be a year-round movement too.

What’s also changed since those early days is the way in which confidential information is being handled. The risk of a security breach is a constant threat now, and recycling paper is no longer as simple as just tossing paper documents into a blue (recycle) bin.

Researchers in one recent study said employees and cleaners do not always know that information is ‘confidential’, and documents may end up in open garbage and recycling bins by accident. Thousands of files containing sensitive patient information were found in open recycling bins outside at five Toronto hospitals in the study.

Data security must be part of the recycling process. There are different ways to reduce, reuse and recycle paper in the workplace – and protect it from information thieves too.

How to Reduce Paper Waste at Work

Reduce paper use by becoming more conscious of printing decisions (do you really need a printed version?) Widen margin settings so the printer uses less paper, and conserve ink by printing in a lighter draft mode.

Data Security Best Practices For Reducing Paper Waste

  • Set printers up so they have two-step pull printing. In the first step, a user initiates the job from a workstation; in the second, that same user permits the destination printer to execute the job. Printed copies are not left in printer trays this way.
  • Convert paper data to a digital format to reduce the possibility that loose leaf paper is exposed. The workplace can encourage this by introducing a digital platform for sharing information.
  • Email memos, and let employees decide if they print them or not.

Reuse in the Office

Reuse paper in different ways. When making copies, set the machine to use both sides of paper – and cut consumption in half. Buy recycled paper as well as recycled toner and ink.

Data Security Considerations When Reusing Paper

  • Provide on-going training for all employees so they understand the importance of information security and avoid exposing confidential data in and out of the workplace.
  • Utilize a comprehensive Document Management Policy to protect confidential information from creation to disposal. For compliance purposes, all documents should be labeled by how long they must be kept – and securely destroyed.

Recycling in the Workplace

Provide recycling bins for different products that can be recycled – but do not use blue bins for paper documents. There is no guarantee the data won’t be exposed or stolen.

Data Security Tips When Recycling

  • Partner with a document destruction company that has a secure chain of custody and provides locked consoles for paper documents that are no longer needed. Replace blue bins with consoles, and be sure they’re in located in convenient locations.
  • Implement a Shred-it All Policy so that employees put all documents that are no longer needed into the consoles for secure shredding and recycling.
  • Be sure the shredding company sends all the shredded confetti-like pieces to a recognized recycling facility. Some companies issue annual certificates that show how many trees were saved.

Start Protecting Your Business

To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.


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Fill out the form or call 888-750-6450 to start protecting your business today!

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