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In this issue, we will discuss how the UK’s small and medium sized businesses can eliminate a major threat to the security of their operations while at the same time reducing their environmental footprint.
Most private companies in the UK – 99 percent, in fact – are small businesses that have less than 249 employees1. It follows that the extent to which small and medium sized business owners’ embrace recycling, cutting down energy use and other green initiatives has an enormous impact on the environment. At the same time, crime in the workplace is on the rise (as we noted in our last newsletter issue), and in many cases, the culprit works for the company. A main source of this crime is the theft of paper documents that have not been securely discarded. So how do small and medium sized businesses remain environmentally-friendly without compromising confidentiality and security? The answer is simple - by setting up a regular shredding programme. Not only can small and medium sized businesses eliminate a key source of data theft within their organisation, but they can also dramatically lessen their waste output by shredding, and at a very reasonable cost.
On average, each person in the UK throws away seven times their body weight in rubbish every year2. Clearly, paper recycling programmes go a very long way towards making a business more environmentally sustainable.
But as described in our last issue, recycling paper carries certain risks. Those documents sitting in a recycling bin or waiting in large clear plastic bags by the lift are a magnet for data thieves. Shredding the paper not only ensures document security, but it decreases an organisation’s environmental footprint as all shredded paper is recycled. Shredding also improves the paper recycling process because there are virtually no pollutants (e.g. plastic or metal) mixed in with shredded paper. For businesses that use a professional document destruction company, they have the additional peace of mind knowing that their business or customer information is being destroyed on site and shipped directly to a paper mill for recycling.
Having a successful small or medium sized business means having a closer focus on the bottom line. Therefore a great way to launch an environmental programme, is to conduct an audit. What are your current energy costs and potential savings from energy conservation? How much paper do you use every day, how are you disposing of it – and is your current disposal system exposing your business to document or identity theft? The audit will not only get everyone involved from the outset, but will also help you decide on priorities and provide a benchmark to measure progress.
There are a number of simple steps based on the “Three Rs” – reduce, reuse, recycle – that can kickstart your company’s conservation programme. For example, paper use can be cut in half by having your printers default to two-sided printing. Lights and computers can be turned off when not in use.
These steps can generate the ‘early wins’ that keep employees motivated and on track, and set the stage for more ambitious initiatives. They include introducing policies to purchase eco-friendly office and cleaning supplies, sourcing materials used in daily operations from green suppliers, installing energy-efficient appliances, buying second-hand furniture and other fixtures, and taking advantage of government programmes that offer financial and resource support to small businesses to step up their green efforts.
“Being environmentally responsible is good for business, but not in the narrow sense of outdoing your competition,” says Robert Guice, EVP of Shred-it UK. “Given what is at stake for the environment, the community and the UK economy at large, it is a collaborative effort among all businesses of all sizes”.
One great way for a small or medium sized business to spread the word about their environmental commitment while amplifying the impact of its efforts, is to involve external partners and stakeholders, especially suppliers. As the programme expands, the company may decide to include environmental criteria and requirements in its selection of suppliers.
For more information or to get started on the road to more secure document handling, visit the
Shred-it Resource Centre at shredit.co.uk/resource-centre
You can also stay informed with Shred-it UK on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @Shredit_UK.
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