Review Those Shredding Contracts!

About a month ago, I went to Sanderson High School in North Raleigh to speak to three Forensics Science classes about the use of documents as evidence. One of their recent projects involved reconstructing shredded documents. Now, I typically advise government employees to review their shredding contracts to ensure that their confidential information cannot be later recovered. When giving this advice, however, I always assumed this was an extra precaution because when would anyone get a hold of enough of these documents to put any of the information together?

Well. It happened. At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, no less. The confetti? Confidential police documents. Those acid vats Mark mentioned are looking pretty good right now. The moral of the story is, make sure you contract with waste paper handlers who understand the rules concerning records confidentiality!

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6 thoughts on “Review Those Shredding Contracts!

  1. Sorry but looking at your shredding contract is simply not enough. You need to find out specifically where your shredded paper is being sold at the end of the day. Your contract may say that the shredding company is required to use a “secure” recycler – or some other such language. The reality is … if they use any recycler, the recycler owns the paper and can do with it, sell it, use it in any way they so choose at the end of the day. Legally. The clearest way to insure that your paper is being properly handled is to make sure that your shredding company is AAA NAID certified (www.naidonline.org) and that the shredding company sells their baled paper directly to a paper mill. Otherwise, a recycler is involved and he is under no obligation to do anything except to sell it to the person paying the highest price for baled, shredded paper that day. And yes, I am NAID certified, and I own a shredding company.

  2. Thank you for the information, Steve! As my colleague explained in the linked post, it is important for government employees in North Carolina to review Title 7, Chapter 4, Subchapter M, Section .0510, of the Administrative Code, which explains how records should be destroyed. Part e) explains that if records can only be “sold as waste paper, provided that the purchaser agrees in writing that the documents or materials concerned will not be resold as documents or records.” I hope this information will prompt conversations between government employees and their recycling or shredding vendors so everyone can be on the same page as to both the statutory and contractual obligations involved in the process.

  3. Your problem is #5. If your shredding company sells shredded paper to any recycler, the recycler can sell it again, and again and again – to whomever. Chain of custody is the key. There are many shredding companies that do not sell to recyclers – and those are the ones you will have the least problems with. The cheapest shredding company is rarely able to provide you with the highest level of security.

  4. Pingback: Do’s and Don’t’s: Records Destruction « The G.S. 132 Files

  5. When ever you hire a shredding company I would advise you to ask to see how small the paper size is shredded to. If you feel comfortable with the size they shred it to then shred with them. If their equipment shreds the paper so small that it can’t be readable you won’t have to worry about where the paper goes after it is shredded.

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