This article was published in Professional Security Magazine Online
June 5 is World Environment Day – a time to remind businesses that they can reduce their organisations' negative environmental impact at the same time as protecting their reputation and bottom line, says a shredding company.
While businesses' environmental values, philosophies and practices differ, most of them recycle paper – one of the easiest and most common environmental practices. However, not all businesses realise they also have to think about the security of the documents they have put into the recycling bins.
Documents left in recycling bins for pickup by local authorities and waste contractors can leave businesses – and their customers - at risk of security breaches, and have the potential to cause cases of identity theft and fraud.
"Heading into the third quarter if 2009, the future of the UK economy is still uncertain. Environmental concerns may, understandably take a back seat, succumbing to the more immediate needs of business survival and cost-cutting," says Robert Guice, Senior Vice President, EMEA of Shred-it Limited, a world leading information security company that provides secure document destruction services. "Our message to businesses is that saving both costs and the environment is not only possible, it's a must and many organisations are walking the talk."
"We encourage our clients to shred all the paper produced by their business, and by doing this, they are ensuring this waste paper is recycled", says Guice.
Without security procedures integrated into paper recycling, even documents that have been ripped and torn may lead to serious privacy and security problems at any point in the document disposal process. Such documents are vulnerable to being mishandled, lost or stolen. Compromised information, no matter how small, can in turn lead to expensive litigation, damaged reputation and a loss of customer trust.
Shred-it have produced an environmental checklist outlining some important considerations for businesses when taking care of their document destruction needs:
Tips for businesses
- Make sure to use a data destruction provider that understands environmental responsibility - ask about your supplier's current environmental targets and goals
- If your supplier truly values the environment, they'll be able to provide statistics about the positive impact they're making through their overall operations.
- Ask your document destruction provider where the shredded paper goes. Make sure the shredded paper is recycled once it leaves your premise, and not just thrown in the landfill.
- Know and share the results of your recycling efforts. For example, calculate how many trees your office has "saved" by its paper recycling efforts. Then, you can keep tallies and try to increase this every year, and encourage employees to participate.
- Place all waste paper in secure receptacles prior to their destruction and recycling
- Educate staff on the importance of keeping discarded documents secure
- Ensure your document destruction provider has a strict chain of custody to ensure documents are secure until their destruction
- Ask to view your supplier's document destruction process
- Request a document certifying that your paper waste has been securely destroyed
During 2008, Shred-it says, it helped its clients to save over 632,550 trees in the UK alone, through the shredding of over 35,140 tonnes of confidential documents. Throughout its entire global network, Shred-it customers saved over 9.4 million trees last year, as well as:
- 3.6 billion gallons of water
- 1.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 31 million pounds of general air pollution
- 522 thousand cubic metres of landfill space
- 520 thousand tonnes of paper recycled into various types of paper products
At the end of each year the firm awards each customer an Environmental Certificate detailing the number of trees that the customer has saved by shredding their confidential documents through the firm.