Are Recycling Bins Your Company’s Worst Enemy?

Recycling is Good, Right?

A blue recycling container is sitting next to a desk in an office and a person sitting in an office chair is tossing a crumpled piece of paper into the container.The upside of an office recycling plan is that you can set up a recycling bin in every office or even at every desk and have them collected regularly and put out for the recycling collection service. Simple and efficient, right? Unfortunately, there’s a downside.

The primary purpose of the office recycling bin is to have a place to discard paper documents, but with the chance of confidential information being on those documents, recycling bins have become a target for fraudsters to steal and profit from, whether those information thieves exist inside or outside of your company.

Consider how these three areas of vulnerability could affect your private information:

  1. Occupational fraud takes place inside the workplace. A study by Ponemon Institute found more than 50% of security incidents reported were caused by a negligent or malicious employee or contractor.
  2. Dumpster divers will search through your garbage and recycling to find the valuable information on intact or inadequately-shredded documents. AARP research shows that 21% of Americans say they never shred any of the personal documents that could be used to steal their identity. Perhaps this is because 40% of respondents don’t believe that criminals are after the information in trash or recycling bins.
  3. Paper in transit through the recycling system is not governed by information security protocols. This contradicts the legal compliance requirements you are obligated to. Any private information your company generates, uses, or disposes of remains your responsibility, making it paramount that you destroy it properly.

The Secrets Found in Recycling Bins

Your company has likely tried to ensure that employees don’t throw out confidential information, but that leaves the decision of whether to shred or recycle up to them. However, the consequences of a data breach fall squarely on the company.

The financial, legal and brand damage caused by a data breach makes it mandatory that your company has its documents destroyed securely, every time. What you and your employees may be missing are the less-obvious documents that could be loaded with valuable information, including:

  • Copies of customer invoices, packing lists, order confirmations, and purchase orders.
  • Employee and payroll records.
  • Email correspondence.
  • Credit card offers.
  • Bank statements.
  • Cancelled checks.
  • Junk mail with personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Shipping and address labels.
  • Pictures and old identification cards.
  • Travel itineraries, boarding passes, and frequent-flier statements.
  • Post-it notes.

Why You Should Shred It All

The list above is extensive, but not complete. So how do you make sure you shred all confidential information? The best way is to enforce a shred-everything policy that requires employees to drop all documents in the locked shred collection containers your shredding company has placed throughout your office. Here are some reasons why:

  • Employees aren’t required to decide what information to keep and what to discard.
  • It strengthens information privacy and confidentiality.
  • It simplifies document disposal for everyone.
  • It reduces the risk of information breaches.
  • It helps you comply with multiple data protection laws, including HIPAA, FERPA, FACTA, SOX, and GLBA.

Instead of Recycling Bins

If you’re going to shred every paper document, you will find that the recycling bin is less required and won’t be a source of a possible breach. Consider outsourcing your document shredding to a local, NAID AAA Certified shredding company. Why?

  • They have the machinery to shred large quantities of documents in short time.
  • Their shredding process is designed to destroy your documents beyond reconstruction.
  • They provide an unbroken chain of custody from pickup to destruction to protect your information from loss or theft.
  • They will complete the chain of custody by providing you with an official Certificate of Destruction for your records to prove your compliance in case of an audit.
  • Many waste management companies cannot accept shredded paper in their recycling stream, so any paper shredded in-house by your employees would end up in the landfill anyway. By using a responsible shredding company, you can be sure that your securely shredded documents are recycled.

Richards & Richards is Nashville’s oldest NAID AAA Certified shredding company. We recycle 100% of the paper we shred. If you would like more information, call us at 615-242-9600 or complete the form on this page and one of our friendly shredding experts will be happy to help you!

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