Shred Day is Every Day

June 6, 2024

Written By: Jason Keller, CSDS of United Electronic Recycling (Coppell, TX, USA)

As our office places are prioritizing sustainability goals, what actions are needed to protect private sensitive data while also diverting from landfill dependence and making positive environmental steps?

Reducing paper waste in the office is a positive environmental step. We are less likely to press print on documents, emails, calendars and memos that are neatly sorted on our computers for our use. However, most businesses still house paperwork with private data like HR files, employee agreements, customer contracts, tax filings, legal documents, and other documents. These are the documents with sensitive, private data that must be protected. Recycling paper documents is preferred over creating waste that will be landfilled, however there is no data destruction promise made during the process. Paper is collected in collection containers, transferred to trucks and delivered to processing facilities and eventually paper recycling facilities for the process of pulping which creates new, recycled-content paper. This process leaves opportunities for breaches and is not a reliable chain of custody for a business to use. Placing paper in waste containers assumes risk as dumpsters allow access to anyone savvy enough to dumpster dive into documents containing social security numbers, addresses and other critical private information. Trash dumpsters on public property have no laws against removing contents. Shredding all paper documents, before recycling, is the best way to protect data and prevent breaches.

NAID AAA Certified businesses operate to standards that ensure security- all paper shredding services must be done in such a manner that paper cannot be reconstructed. Material must be cross-cut shredded and essentially reduced to paper fragments. These paper fragments are just as recyclable as complete documents, making NAID AAA Certified paper shredding the best choice for compliance and sustainability.

Paper shredding companies must comply with state and federal destruction compliance laws; these regulations are ever evolving and vary from state to state.  Document destruction service providers assume a high amount of risk in receiving sensitive data from their clients and in an effort to offer the most secure services possible, many top providers will take the voluntary step of becoming NAID AAA Certified. NAID stands for the National Association of Information Destruction, a non-profit organization that sets standards for the information destruction industry. NAID AAA Certification is the most widely accepted certification for data destruction companies globally. By adhering to NAID-certified procedures, businesses can protect themselves from legal liabilities associated with improper data handling and disposal. If a breach occurs, being NAID AAA certified can show due diligence in following best practices, potentially mitigating legal consequences. Choosing a paper shredding service provider that offers federal and state compliance as well as industry-leading certifications is the best plan towards preventing data breaches.

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