Only a third of companies shred private documents

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The number of businesses recycling in London has increased over the last 5 years, but according to the results of our business-wide survey, almost two thirds of offices don’t shred confidential documents before binning or recycling them. The worst offenders are businesses in hospitality, marketing and PR, and finance.

Our study of more than 800 London-based businesses has found that almost two-thirds do not shred confidential documents before binning or recycling them, despite the fact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can fine business up to £500,000 for failing to comply with the Data Protection Act’s rules for confidential waste.

We commissioned a survey and found that among the confidential documents not properly disposed of, contracts containing sensitive data are the most commonly mishandled.

Across London and the surrounding areas, we estimate we’ve picked up over 1.2 tonnes of confidential waste in the last 12 months. This is an 28%increase, year-on-year.

Of the respondents that admitted they didn’t shred confidential documents, when asked “which of the following documents do you most commonly dispose of?”, these responses were given:

    1. Client contracts – 53% (of people answered that they disposed of contracts without shredding them)
    2. Booking information – 36%
    3. Invoices – 29%
    4. Emails – 28%
    5. Company credit card bills – 25%
    6. Employee information – 24%

The percentages of business sectors that dispose of confidential documents without shredding them are:

        1. Hospitality – 81% (of respondents that worked in this area said that they didn’t shred)
        2. Marketing and PR – 74%
        3. Finance – 70%
        4. Schools, colleges and universities – 58%
        5. Building trade – 54%
        6. Manufacturing – 53%
        7. Software – 33%
        8. Retail – 31%
        9. Charity – 29%
        10. GP surgeries – 13%

Here at EnviroWaste, we have a secure destruction of confidential material policy, the message to businesses across London is to be careful with confidential documents, even when recycling.

James Rubin owner of EnviroWaste said,

“It’s good to see the demand of our secure document destruction service getting busier, it means businesses are aware of the importance of keeping confidential documents secure and destroyed properly. However, the issue comes when we find confidential documents coming through our doors as part of the general waste clearances we carry out, meaning the customer has not taken the time to separate the sensitive documents from their general waste. Our secure destruction of confidential material policy protects our customers for material in our care, but if companies are using other recycling services, or worse just putting these documents in the bin, there can be little to no protection.”

“We’re getting better at protecting ourselves online, but companies need ensure policies around confidential documents are being followed. There may be a false sense of security that comes with recycling, but shredding documents beforehand ensures nothing slips through the net.”

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