/ IN THIS BLOG
01 / The case for secure document destruction & disposal
While so much of our day-to-day work is done in the digital sphere, there is still plenty of old-fashioned paper waste that must be handled appropriately. The everyday wastepaper that your business generates might not be toxic in the EPA sense of the word. But like a hazardous waste, it can certainly be threatening to the health & welfare of your enterprise, especially when handling confidential information or personal data. Consider:
Business espionage. Wastepaper can provide a trove of information to people who don’t have your best interests in mind. Businesses are routinely monitored by bad actors who proffer purloined data to unscrupulous competitors.
A careful reading of your discarded price lists, sales statistics, drafts of bids and proposals, letters to clients, customer contact info, internal memos, etc. can shed a stark light onto what you think are the best-kept secrets of your enterprise.
Also bear in mind, if your company has signed an NDA with some entity, your liability for exposing the information accidentally is only marginally less than for leaking it purposefully—maybe.
Identity theft. Miscreants can use wastepaper for the dark business of identity theft. The extent to which one or more of your departments harbors personal information about employees—human resources comes to mind—is proportional to your liability, should those data get into the wrong hands.
Such liability—i.e., the data being “compromised”—is bad enough in and of itself. But things get worse should identity theft actually result. Think: investigations, audits, fines, sanctions, tarnished reputation, loss of customer trust, and—of course—lawsuits.
02 / Laws related to secure document destruction & disposal
Per the Supreme Court 486 U.S. 35, trash on the curb is public property and anyone’s for the taking. So if you simply toss unwanted paperwork into the garbage, and thereby carelessly provide your trade secrets to a well‑connected dumpster diver, you have no recourse.
Worse, if the retrieved paperwork compromises peoples’ personal data with which you’ve been trusted—or it results in identity theft—your liabilities will be manifold and expensive.
All that said, there is no single federal law that covers data privacy monolithically in the United States. Instead, there’s an intricate patchwork of laws and regulations. For example:
There are also hundreds of different privacy and security laws across the US on a state level affecting the collection, storage, safeguarding, disposal, and use of personal data.
03 / How to develop a secure document destruction & disposal protocol
Every kind of paper record has a shelf-life, the length of which can be dictated by legal regulation (e.g., three to seven years for IRS records) or by industry best practices (e.g., two years for hiring decisions).
The first step in creating a routine for secure document destruction & disposal is developing a retention policy that takes into account those shelf-lives. Once a record is “out of date,” it should be obliterated. But how?
A deep-dive into the internet finds suggestions for hand-shredding, using multi-cut scissors, burning, soaking, and even adding old paperwork to compost piles. But the easiest and most ubiquitous recommendation is for mechanical shredding.
04 / Should you try secure document destruction & disposal on your own?
You can. But you have to consider employee wages and benefits; opportunity costs; and the expense of shredding-equipment purchase, maintenance, and depreciation. Also, you’ll need an internal security protocol to ensure that sensitive wastepaper isn’t illicitly leaving the building or being read by employees for untoward purposes.
In sum, in-house secure document destruction and disposal can erode your productivity and revenue generation. Conversely, outsourcing the initiative is significantly more cost effective.
05 / How to choose a secure document destruction & disposal company
First of all, find a company that specializes in obliterating sensitive information (aka discrete document destruction).
The better ones will provide you with locked containers, each with a slot into which your employees can deposit out-of-date paperwork.
Thus, from the time discarded paperwork gets slipped into the container, to when it’s ultimately destroyed by the shredder company’s designated personnel, it cannot be accessed by anyone.
These better companies use technically-sophisticated shredders, which can quickly transform your discarded paperwork into very fine slivers that are not only impossible to reconstitute for reading, but are ecofriendly for recycling.
Finally, the company will send you a “certificate of destruction.” This is a formal document containing detailed information about the destruction of your wastepaper that ensures the shredding process complied with all relevant security laws.
06 / Get expert advice and help
MCF Environmental Services has been providing secure transport and destruction of confidential wastepaper to business, government, medical, and industrial enterprises for over a decade.
We deliver secure document-shredding bins to your site, retrieve them with recurring scheduled pickups, and document custody with a proper certificate of destruction.
We also provide bulk one-time shredding services for boxes or containers of documents, as well as one-time bulk shredding services.
We never broker or subcontract any portion of the secure document destruction and disposal process to another company. Doing so invites lapses in compliance—inadvertent or otherwise—which is why we manage the process from start to finish on your behalf.
And thank you for reading our blog!