Office shredding machines were once a popular way to destroy confidential documents, but many of them no longer comply with GDPR requirements.

Avena Group wanted to show how using a shredding service not only guarantees compliance but makes good commercial sense.

This required knowledge and understanding of the GDPR implications and below-the-line costs of using a shredding machine as well as the Avena destruction process. External links were used as credible sources and to improve SEO.

Is An Office Shredder Your Best Option?

Office shredders can be bought quite cheaply, and might even offer a security level that meets legal requirements, but before you buy a shredder for your office you might want to consider more than just the purchase cost.

Operational Costs

When you use your new shredder for the first time, you might be impressed by how effortlessly it cuts a sheet of paper into thin strips. And so it should; the blades are at their sharpest and cleanest, and the motor has yet to deal with the strain of jamming.

After a while, the fine teeth of the blades will start to clog up with small paper fibres and the edges will begin to lose their brand-new sharpness. You may start to hear the shredder labouring slightly when you feed it the maximum number of sheets, and it may start to jam more frequently. This will cause the motor to overheat and eventually burn out.

Minor jams can be resolved by reversing the blade direction, but anything more serious will require an engineer call-out. If damage has been caused by inappropriate use, you may be liable for the cost of the call-out and any replacement parts.

Staffing Costs

An office will typically use a centrally located shredder that is accessible to all, the idea being that when a confidential document is no longer required it can be shredded immediately, reducing the risks of a security breach.

But if a shredder has multiple users, there’s a high chance that you will get a queue for the shredder – a perfect opportunity for staff to catch up on office gossip, but hardly an efficient use of time!

Even without a queue, have you ever timed how long it takes to shred documents? A heavy-duty office shredder can only take 10-20 sheets of paper at once, so if you have a large stack of documents to shred, expect to be there for a long time.

If five employees spend just five minutes per day at the shredder, this adds up to 110 hours per year.

If employees get bored while shredding large volumes of paper or have other tasks they need to urgently return to, they are often tempted to try pushing the shredder’s capacity to its limits and will end up jamming the mechanism, which in turn increases the staffing and maintenance costs.

Security Costs

Office shredders are becoming increasingly popular due to GDPR Compliance. This legal obligation on all businesses stipulates that all documents containing personal information must be destroyed in a manner that prevents the information from being retrieved. Shredding is the most cost-effective and efficient means of destruction.

However, if a company is to fully comply with the regulations, it must be able to demonstrate that appropriate measures have been taken to prevent a security breach at every stage of the document’s journey.

The costs of a security breach are potentially disastrous. In serious infringements, a company can be fined up to £18 million or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater. Even if fines are not levied, companies can suffer a severe loss of reputation that will lose customers. The company can also be temporarily or even permanently banned from processing data.

– Before Destruction

As we have already seen, queues and delays can occur if an office shredder is shared by many staff. Faced with this, an employee may be tempted to return to their workstation and place the documents on their desk to wait until the shredder is available. Or worse still, they may leave the documents in the vicinity of the shredder so they can return to the task later. Either way, they have committed a potential breach of security.

The Securall® console from Avena is a secure, locked receptacle that makes disposal of sensitive documents as easy as throwing them in a wastepaper basket but is designed in such a way that it is impossible to retrieve documents from the console.

– Secure Destruction

Many office shredders cut documents into long strips, which can be reassembled into pages and the data extracted. Although this is a painstaking process, if the information is sufficiently valuable it will be done.
Professional secure data destruction company Avena uses industrial shredders that reduce documents to smaller particles that are almost impossible to piece together.

– After Destruction

In a conventional office shredder, the shredded material is contained in a bin underneath the shredder. This can be easily removed and passed on to persons with the criminal intention of retrieving data.

As documents are shredded at Avena they are mixed with material from other sites which, in addition to the particle size of the shredded material, makes retrieval of data entirely impossible.

– Audit Trail

GDPR also requires companies to provide proof of secure document destruction for industry regulated compliance. If you use an office shredder to destroy confidential documents, how will you guarantee that once the shredded paper leaves your premises, it will be securely disposed of?

Avena is fully compliant with BS EN: 15713-2009. Under this code of practice, we audit every detail of the disposal process, from how the material is stored at your premises before collection, how it is protected against theft and tampering during collection and transportation, and how it is destroyed at our facility.

Your contract will include all legally required audit reports for you to maintain your own records and give you total peace of mind.

Other Hidden Costs

– Paper dust

When paper is shredded, very fine dust is created that can cause problems for people and equipment. According to Scientific American, postal workers reported experiencing occupational asthma, bronchitis, allergic reactions, migraines, bacterial infections, conjunctivitis and sore throats from fine paper dust.

This dust will also enter electronic equipment such as computers and printers, where it can cause overheating and damage to printed circuit boards.

– Disposal

One factor that is often overlooked when buying an office shredder is that many local councils and waste contractors will not accept shredded paper in recycled waste, as it is hard to segregate it from other non-paper waste.

This means that your shredded paper will need to be collected separately, at an additional cost. Some companies try to reduce this cost by stockpiling shredded paper waste and arranging less frequent collections, but in doing so they increase the risk of rodent infestation and fire.

Avena Group are industry specialists in the secure destruction of printed documents, digital media, IT hardware and corporate clothing. We serve a wide range of sectors including education and healthcare, and the financial and legal professions.