Choosing whether to shred or recycle your paper is a common problem for many businesses. Shredding paper yourself can take a lot of time — recycling often just seems easier.
While recycling paper at home might be acceptable for most paper documents, including junk mail and newspapers, recycling for a business is a little different. For one thing, commercial businesses often accumulate paper with customer records, including personal identification information (PII).
Here are the differences between paper shredding and paper recycling for businesses.
Paper recycling is when you put paper into a recycling bin (or give it to a professional recycler) so that they can take it to a recycling facility. The paper is then sorted and put into bales. The bales are stored until needed by a paper mill, which takes the recycled paper and uses it to make new paper.
Paper can actually be recycled many times — up to 7 times. This is because recycling reduces the size of the fibers that make up the paper. When the fibers become too short, they cannot be used to make new paper unless mixed with additional fibers.
Recycling centers are also designed to remove some objects, like staples and paper clips, so you don’t actually have to remove them before recycling your paper. However, not all recycling centers will recycle all types of paper — some accept mixed paper, and some do not.
Although not every state, county, or city will have paper recycling services, that doesn’t stop the U.S. from recycling tons of paper — literally. Every year, about 68 million tons of paper are recycled. Recycling paper has a huge effect on the environment. Every ton of paper that’s recycled saves 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, and 7,000 gallons of water.
Unfortunately, simply recycling paper doesn’t protect your personally identifiable information (PII). In most states, if your paper is sitting in a recycling bin that’s off your property, then it’s considered public property.
Anyone can go through a recycling bin and take the contents, theoretically. Often there are local laws that prohibit this behavior. Even so, you wouldn’t want your credit card number, social security number, or even phone number sitting in bin at the curb.
That’s why shredding your paper is the essential option for businesses.
Paper shredding is when your paper is cut into strips or small pieces or particles. They can then be sent to a recycling center. The shredder was patented in 1909 but wasn’t actually manufactured until after World War II.
Shredders were mostly used by government institutions until about the 1980s when businesses and individuals began shredding documents over privacy and identity theft concerns.
All shredders are not created equal. If your paper is only shredded into strips, it’s possible to reconstruct the paper and what was written/printed on it. Shredding your paper into small pieces is the best method of protecting PII or other types of sensitive information (like proprietary information or intellectual property).
It’s still common for thieves to use paper documents to steal identities or proprietary information — or even your clients’ or employees’ PII. In 2015, 1 out of every 5 data breaches involved paper documents.
There are actually a number of laws that require certain types of businesses to shred paper. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) doesn’t directly require healthcare institutions to shred documents, but they are required to protect patient information. Shredding is one of the best ways to ensure old patient information is protected from thieves.
Other laws directly require shredding, like the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), which require certain types of customer/consumer information to be shredded.
Today, professional paper shredding services are able to shred any type of paper and ensure documents are destroyed.
At Protec Recycling, located near Birmingham, AL, we even provide certificates of destruction that prove you have properly disposed of your documents. Call our office at 205-549-2120 or visit our Contact Us page today.
The biggest benefit of shredding over recycling is that you can ensure your documents are destroyed. You no longer have to worry about thieves going through your business’ garbage and finding proprietary information or your customers’ or employees’ PII.
However, if you’re doing the shredding yourself, there are a few drawbacks. Shredding paper takes an enormous amount of time on the part of you or your employees. With a small shredder, or even an office shredder, you’re still going to be wasting time (or money in the form of wages to your employees) shredding.
Shredding large stacks of documents can overheat an office shredder. You can also accidentally put too much paper into an office shredder, jamming it, which may then result in an inconvenient and expensive repair.
Working with a professional shredder solves these problems. At Protec Recycling, we’ve invested in the best commercial shredding systems. You don’t even need to worry about staples or paper clips.
While there are many professional recyclers out there, you’ll want to work with an NAID AAA Certified Recycler like Protec Recycling to make sure your documents are properly destroyed by trained professionals. We also provide Mobile Services, coming to your office with our mobile shredding equipment.
We’re located in Homewood, Alabama and serve the Birmingham region and beyond.
From one-time purges to regularly scheduled service, Protec Recycling helps you regularly (and properly) shred documents with personally identifiable information. To schedule a pickup, call our office at 205-549-2120 or visit our Contact Us page today.