April 28, 2023

Combining Information Protection and Recycling

Protecting confidential information from physical data breaches should be a priority for all businesses. However, they should not need to sacrifice their sustainability goals to maintain physical document security. Businesses can effectively incorporate recycling into their information protection practices with secure paper shredding and hard drive destruction.

Secure Paper Shredding and Recycling

Although the business world seems to have gone paperless and moved many operations and filings online, companies still use a lot of paper. Offices in the United States use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper per year. However, using paper can have negative impacts on the environment. Producing paper uses a lot of energy and water, and discarding paper rather than recycling it can contribute to landfill waste. So, what can businesses do with all the paper they no longer need? The World Counts estimates that recycling one ton of paper can contribute to resource savings equivalent to around 1,400 liters of oil, 26,500 liters of water, and 17 trees. But, companies should be careful because traditional recycling blue bins could leave confidential information exposed and at risk.

Secure document destruction services, like Shred-it®, promote recycling while at the same time helping to keep physical confidential data safe. Shred-it® helps companies that use its paper destruction services promote recycling practices and contribute to a circular economy model of resource use. Paper thrown in the garbage takes up space in landfills (up to 26%). A circular economy aims to help encourage re-use of materials and limit such landfill waste. In 2022, Shred-it® recycled approximately 1.1 billion pounds of paper, which is the equivalent of the amount of paper that could be harvested from approximately 9 million trees. 

Implementing a shred-it all policy can help ensure your employees throw confidential papers into a secure console for shredding versus a recycling bin. This policy encourages the regular destruction of all documents to help ensure no confidential information is left in the open that could fall into the wrong hands.

What Does Shred-it® Do With the Shredded Paper?

Paper documents collected by Shred-it® follow a seven-step destruction and recycling process:

  1. Employees drop their confidential documents in a secure Shred-it® console. Unlike the traditional recycling disposal process, where anyone in the office could view and take papers thrown away in blue bins, Shred-it® consoles are locked and have a beveled slot to help prevent access to discarded documents.
  2. On a scheduled basis, Shred-it® professionals empty the consoles. The document destruction transport bins used in transporting secure information for destruction during collection are molded from 100% recycled HDPE plastic.
  3. Shred-it® provides a Proof of Service certificate after every material pickup to acknowledge that your documents have been collected.
  4. The shredded and baled paper is then sold as sorted office paper to be used in the manufacturing of paper products.
  5. A recycling facility subsequently turns the shredded paper into pulp by separating the paper’s fibers.
  6. The pulp is then put through a screening process that filters out impurities and prepares it for the removal of printing ink.
  7. Finally, the newly recycled pulp is mixed with fresh pulp to manufacture new, everyday paper products.

The following checklist can help businesses find a trusted partner in secure and sustainable information destruction:

  • Has an excellent reputation and can provide references
  • Employs personnel that have undergone rigorous training and background checks
  • Provides lockable containers for documents before destruction
  • Shreds documents in a secured facility and provides proof of service
  • Gives you the option of watching the document destruction with on-site services
  • Uses cross-cut shredders that can accommodate other media types, such as CDs and disks
  • Aims to recycle all shredded documents
  • Offers a FREE security risk assessment

Hard Drive Destruction

Physically destroying hard drives and other electronic media is the recommended way to make data inaccessible. Throwing away old electronics or wiping data does not always remove its memory, potentially leaving it available for unauthorized parties to take. A hard drive destruction service like Shred-it® offers state-of-the-art destruction in two forms, crushing and shearing, subject to local availability. Both destruction methods leave the data unrecoverable. Crushing involves punching an unfixable hole in the device with 7,500 lbs. of pressure, which breaks the magnetic surfaces. Shearing breaks the device or hard drive into pieces with 40,000 lbs. of force. Once the equipment is unusable, Stericycle aims to recycle the hard drives with local partners, helping to reduce the volume of material heading to landfills.

Download our infographic for some environmental fast facts and learn more about how Shred-it® can help protect your documents and hard drives while helping you meet your corporate sustainability goals.

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