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Creating a sustainable office: beware of unsecured paper recycling bins!

Posted October 16, 2014 by Jenny Green

While having an office full of workers efficiently disposing of paper waste in recycling bins sounds like a great idea, the reality is that if those bins aren’t secure then you run the very real risk of a data breach.

Making your office as environmentally friendly as possible should of course be a priority, but not at the cost of your organisation’s security. And with the risk of a fine up to £500,000 if the Information Commissioner’s Office finds you guilty of a data breach, it’s also in your organisation’s financial interest to ensure that those recycling initiatives are in line with security protocols.


The problem with recycling is that documents can go through upwards of six security risk points during their lifetime. From sitting in unsecure bins under employees’ desks to being left in clear plastic bags outside offices before being destroyed, documents simply don’t have the same level of data protection as those disposed of by secure shredding service providers. They might be documents that seem unimportant to your employees – status reports, invoices and strategy documents – but ultimately they could be used maliciously against you by your competitors and even criminals!

Not many people are aware that at Shred-it, all of our customers’ paper shredding is also recycled; meaning you can rest assured that not only are your documents securely shredded, but they are also being disposed of in a sustainable way. This means that both environmental sustainability and privacy protection are easily achievable.

There are a number of other ways you can maximise your organisation’s green efforts – some of which are surprisingly simple.

Here are some tips for upping your organisations’ green credentials:

  1. Replace your light fixtures with energy efficient light bulbs that use a whopping 80% less energy than regular lighting. Given that 40% of a building’s electricity use is accounted for by lighting, it is well worth cutting down where you can without working in the dark!
  2. Using power strips for devices like computers, lights and printers makes it a whole lot easier to shut down an entire desktop at once and avoids leaving any devices on unnecessarily.
  3. By creating an after-hours and weekend thermostat setting you can make sure your office isn’t using unrequired heating when there’s no one in to benefit.

It is crucial for organisations not to compromise the security of their customers and clients when implementing recycling initiatives.

Interested in finding out more about how to ensure your paper recycling efforts aren’t jeopardising the security of your information?   This simple infographic shows how the traditional recycling bin stacks up against a secure paper shredding service in the information security risk stakes. 

Join the conversation on information security with Shred-it on Twitter @Shredit_UK.

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