Whether you want to dispose of your personal papers, or you’re a business looking to comply with data protection regulations, you can’t simply crumple your documents and toss them in the trash.
Instead, you need to find a way to destroy them properly so that there’s no way to extract any information from them.
Data breaches resulting from papers that you no longer need can have serious consequences for you personally, your business, or your clients.
So here are the safest ways to dispose of your documents and ensure they never see the light of the day again.
Basic shredders are quite inexpensive, so you may choose to purchase one, whether you’re a business or an individual.
There are two types of shredding — strip cutting and crosscutting. The former cuts paper in one direction, and the latter cuts it into tiny pieces. Either option is good, but crosscutting is safer since the paper is more difficult to reassemble. If someone is really bent on stealing your private info, they might be able to do so from strip cuts.
If you’re wondering what to do with all the paper after you shred it, the best and most environmentally friendly option is to recycle it. Not only will you contribute to saving the planet, but once your paper is recycled and repurposed, all the information is gone forever.
If you’re not a business and you just have a few papers you need to dispose of, you can shred them by hand using any scissors. You can even make it into confetti, color it, and use it for your next party!
Businesses could also opt to use commercial shredding services. This is a great idea, especially if you have large quantities of paper that would take you or your employees forever to destroy.
Make sure to ask around and find a confidential paper shredding company with state-of-the-art equipment and safe, as well as environmentally friendly, procedures.
When you contact the company, they will come to your facilities. If you want extra security, many companies provide on-site shredding services, which means they can dispose of your documents under your supervision.
Professional equipment can often cut through plastic folders, paper clips, and other harder materials, so you won’t have to remove these items beforehand.
Responsible paper-shredding companies then collect your waste and take it to recycling immediately, so you don’t have to worry about any leftovers. What’s more, if you require further proof of destruction for legal purposes, these companies can provide you with a Certificate of Destruction.
It’s safe to say that using professional shredding services is the best way to dispose of large quantities of confidential documents.
Another makeshift way to destroy your papers is by burning them. This method is best suited for small quantities of paper. Of course, if you’re a business with piles on piles of documents you no longer need, making a fire pit behind your building to burn them is not a good idea.
Before you feed your papers to fire, it’s still best to cut them into smaller pieces. That way, you won’t risk larger, quite readable parts flying off of your premises or remaining intact in your ashes.
If your confidential info is on regular, non-toxic paper, you can compost it. Apart from glossy or colored paper, which may contain some toxic chemicals, most other kinds are safe to use in compost.
You want to break your paper into smaller pieces for this method of disposal as well. Just make sure not to add too much of it to your heap at once. This may cause an unfavorable carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (paper is high in carbon, which is why it burns so well).
What to Do With Digital Documents
Digital data is a bit more difficult to control because it’s easy to make copies of it, and it can stay in your computer even after you seemingly get rid of it. You should do everything in your power to protect it.
Formatting your drive is not enough to wipe it clean. Your information will still be available for hackers to recover. There are programs that can help you clean it on a deeper level. You can download some of them for free, but make sure they come from a reputable source.
If you don’t have an in-house IT team, you’ll want to hire an IT security company to help you truly dispose of your digital copies of any confidential info. Even when storing it, you need to encrypt it to make sure it’s unreadable to those who access it without authorization.
Sometimes, businesses want to go the extra mile to ensure no one gets their hands on the business’ data. They do so by shredding or recycling their electronic devices. Most shredding companies can also shred your hard drives or other electronics.