Keep Your Documents Out of the Landfill

Origin of the Motorized Shredder

Closeup photo of shredded paperThe first machine-run shredder was created by Adolf Ehinger in 1935. Ehinger was printing anti-Nazi materials and realized he needed a means of disposing of them to protect himself from being identified. Inspired by a hand-cranked pasta maker, he created a hand-cranked paper shredder, later adding a motor to drive it. In 1936, he patented his invention in Germany and took it to trade shows, eventually creating a growing business based on his shredding machine.

The Original Reason for Shredding

The original purpose behind shredding documents hasn’t changed. We do it to protect the information on the paper from being read by anyone you don’t want to share it with.

Adolf Ehinger was protecting his own life by destroying any anti-Nazi papers that would identify him as the creator. Hand-tearing these documents was obviously not effective enough and far too time consuming, so he created the forerunner to the modern office shredding machine.

However, in today’s culture, secure paper shredding has an additional purpose.

The Added Reason for Shredding

In the intervening years between 1935 and today, shredding documents has become a necessity in the personal and business world. Here’s why:

1. To Safeguard Confidential Information

In the United States, as it became clear that individuals needed their information to be kept private, the US government responded with enacting laws to protect the privacy and personal information, forcing businesses to implement protective measures to keep documents containing personally identifiable information from getting lost or stolen.

Around the same time as Ehinger’s invention, the Social Security Act of 1935 made it a requirement for businesses and other organizations to safeguard Social Security Numbers.

In 1974, the Privacy Act was enacted, holding companies responsible for the mishandling of personal information whether purposely or accidentally.

In 2003, the government implemented the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), requiring that sensitive documents must be destroyed to a point that they were permanently unreadable and holding any organization that failed to do so legally responsible for that failure.

Today, businesses that want to remain compliant with privacy laws turn to the most secure option available for properly destroying documents: engaging the services of a professional shredding company. This comes with the following benefits:

  • Time savings. By using industrial-strength shredders that can destroy large quantities of paper quickly, your shredding projects get done in the blink of an eye compared to shredding in-house.
  • Money savings. By avoiding office shredding machines, you avoid having to buy, replace, and maintain them. You also keep your employees focused on their core tasks instead of spending their valuable time standing in front of a shredding machine.
  • Increased security. In-house shredding automatically creates security issues. There is no chain of custody for confidential documents, those documents are often piled in unsecure areas awaiting shredding, and office shredding machines don’t meet the high security standards of a NAID AAA Certified shredding company, which must follow strict requirements to keep their certification.
  • Proof of compliance. A professional shredding company can provide you with a Certificate of Destruction after each shredding project is complete. This gives you have proof of your compliance with state and federal data privacy laws in case of an audit.

2. To Safeguard the Environment

Fortunately, our world has become more aware and protective of our environment in recent years, and has implemented ways we can all act to protect our planet.

When you partner with a responsible, local shredding company, they can protect your information and the environment by properly recycling the shredded paper they produce. Why does this matter? Here are some facts you may not have been aware of:

  • Paper accounts for around 26% of total waste at landfills.
  • From 2010 to 2060, global consumption of paper is expected to double, and so will the amount of paper waste.
  • 93% of paper comes from trees.
  • From 2001 to 2019, a total of 954 million acres of forest were lost globally, resulting in almost a 10% decrease in tree cover since 2000.
  • 199 tons of new paper are produced every 15 seconds.
  • More than 7,000 gallons of water is needed to make 1 ton of paper.
  • Every tree produces enough oxygen for 3 people to breathe.
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves around 17 trees, nine barrels of oil, and 7,000 gallons of water.

3. To Keep Paper Out of Landfills

Fortunately, reducing paper use and recycling paper keeps about 46 million tons of paper out of landfills. You can help by:

  • Reducing your use of paper. Whenever possible, communicate digitally, have clients complete forms online, use digital-only documents, and print only when necessary.
  • Partnering with a professional shredding company. Since you are required to properly destroy your documents, have a professional shredder do it for you so they can have the shredded paper properly recycled, too. Unfortunately, many local waste management services can’t recycle the shredded paper produced by office shredding machines.
  • Shredding everything. Many companies adopt a “shred everything” policy, requiring all papers to be dropped into locked shred collection containers rather than forcing employees to decide what to shred and what to recycle without shredding. Avoid mistakes by having it all securely shredded.

What about Ehinger?

If you’re wondering what happened to Adolf Ehinger, prior to his death in 1984, he turned his business over to his son, Adolf Ehinger, Jr. He and his wife, Renate, headed the company until 1998 when they sold it to Krug & Priester, still in business in Germany today.

Richards & Richards provides NAID AAA Certified shredding services to clients in Nashville and Central Tennessee. We recycle all shredded paper and provide Certificates of Destruction upon request when your shredding job is complete. If you would like to find out how we can help you, call us at 615-242-9600 or complete the form on this page. One of our friendly shredding experts will be happy to create a tailored shredding solution to fit your unique needs.

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