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What is a Paper Shredding Service?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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A paper shredding service is a service used by businesses to destroy confidential and sensitive documents. Rather than throwing sensitive material into the dumpster where it could be stolen, shredding the documents is a safeguard against theft. Hiring a paper shredder service is a valuable investment for most businesses.

In many places, businesses such as banks, financial institutions and medical facilities are required by law to protect the confidentiality and security of patrons. Breaking this law could result in legal penalties and fines. Even in locations where it is not required by law, most businesses seek to not only protect their customers or clients from identity theft and a loss of confidential material, but also the business itself from corporate espionage and other threats.

Though it is possible for a business to purchase one or more paper shredders for this purpose, this incurs more expense and uses company time. Paper shredders will likely need to be purchased regularly, as the machines can break down and fail. For a business or even a homeowner with a high volume of documents, a paper shredding service can give peace of mind.

Most paper shredding services offer a few options. The first option is for the service to come directly to the business and shred the large volume of documents onsite using their equipment, and then dispose of the paper for you. The second option is a good bet for homeowners or small business owners -- the documents that need to be shredded are boxed and shipped securely to the service, where they are shredded and disposed of. For highly sensitive documents, the first option is likely a better choice.

Some paper shredding services will also offer the option of renting a shredder or several, and allowing the employees of the business to shred their own documents. When the shredding is finished, the shredder is returned. You are free to choose the service that is most beneficial for your business. Some services come on an as-needed basis, while others allow the business to schedule regular visits.

Aside from shredding legal documents, financial statements and medical records, a paper shredding service might offer other options. Some offer the ability to destroy hard drives as well, along with other media such as CDs or DVDs. Additionally, most paper shredding services recycle the shredded documents, reducing landfill waste and helping the environment. Most services can complete the work in a relatively short period of time; usually within one day or even just a few hours.

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Discussion Comments
By KoiwiGal — On Jun 12, 2012

@indigomoth - That's a great way to recycle newspapers. I always make sure my company is using an environmentally friendly paper shredding company, because it's kind of ridiculous if they aren't. There are so many uses for that kind of paper.

My favorite is something I discovered when I was volunteering for the local humane shelter. They got sacks of shredded paper from a local company for free and used it as a bedding for the puppies. It was absorbent and disposable and easy to put in and remove, plus it kept them warm, so it worked well for the shelter.

You could potentially use shredded paper as bedding for other animals as well, but be careful as some of them might eat it and if it has too much newspaper ink it might be dangerous for them.

By indigomoth — On Jun 12, 2012

@browncoat - Yeah, I'd also take advantage of any package deals they have which allow you to wipe old hard drives and disks as well. It's becoming more fashionable to donate old computers after you upgrade and that's wonderful, but it can leave a company vulnerable, since a disappointingly large number of people tend to write their passwords down in a file somewhere.

Although, I have to say the only time I've ever hired someone for this was a residential paper shredding service that came in and did a bunch of newspapers for me. I'd been storing them up in order to make blocks for the fireplace but realized I would never have time to shred them all. It was a good service and pretty cheap to, and they were done very quickly.

By browncoat — On Jun 11, 2012

I think what a lot of people don't realize is that when someone is said to have hacked into a company they often aren't sitting at a computer and typing gibberish in order to find the passwords. The most famous hackers often worked by getting their hands on confidential documents.

And not even obvious ones, like, say a list of passwords that someone happened to throw out. If you chuck out your departmental memos, for example, a hack might find them, and use them to call up a secretary pretending to be someone else in the company. He'll know all about your company and how to fake that he works there because he's studied all your memos and he'll just have to say, hey, my boss forgot the password again, would you mind giving it to me? And hey, presto, he's into your database and doing whatever he wants with your information.

Hiring a paper shred service is a really good habit to get into and potentially worth every penny.

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