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Increasingly when it comes to handling the destruction of thousands of tonnes of material containing confidential data, in line with the Data Protection Act, public sector organisations are looking beyond security and factoring in how this waste can be processed in a more sustainable, and economically viable, way to meet their wider social obligations. By Stuart Nicholls, Vice-Chairman, BSIA Information Destruction Section


t certainly makes sense to consider the bigger picture for information destruction given the current fiscal climate. One way forward is to combine a robust process that safeguards data through its whole life cycle, and ensures that information destruction providers adhere to relevant standards like EN 15713, while, at the same time, supporting the implementation of ‘green’ initiatives such as recycling. By taking this twin-track approach, now more than ever, organisations are able to demonstrate to key stakeholders that they are committed to a process which protects their valuable data from damaging breaches, recognises the wider environmental issues that are coming into play, and takes account of the imperative to realise cost savings as public sector budgets are squeezed ever more tightly.

CLOSED LOOP RECYCLING A good example of this joined-up thinking in action is an award-wining scheme, pioneered by a BSIA member company, which underlines what can be achieved with regard to information destruction and sustainability. The so-called ‘closed loop’ recycling process employed in the scheme ensures data security by returning recycled paper directly back to the client after processing. Essentially the closed loop recycling scheme works as follows: initially the professional information destruction provider collects the confidential waste paper from the client, shreds it and bails it. The next stage sees the paper sent to a collaborating paper mill. At the mill it is recycled and turned into ‘new’ office paper. This is then sold back to the client organisation at a competitive rate. In the case of the scheme run by the BSIA member, its success can be attributed, in


large measure, to the positive cooperation between all of the parties. To date 325 tonnes of paper have been shredded and recycled, saving 5,514 trees and helping 729m3 avoid landfill.

of waste

The point to stress here is that with this scheme, and other recycling initiatives operated by members of the BSIA ID Section, there is the added reassurance for organisations which take-up such a service that their waste is going to be being handled in line with European and UK regulations. Certainly, with initiatives like closed loop recycling the potential is opened-up to realise a significant return on investment due to the bottom line savings that result from buying back the original paper. In the case of the BSIA member scheme more than half of the paper that the organisation involved now purchases is, typically, recycled through the project.

SECURE SUSTAINABILITY For private sector organisations looking to deal with their sensitive data in an environmentally friendly and secure way it is important when outsourcing to only select providers that adhere to a strict code of ethics and comply with security requirements set out in the European Standard EN 15713, including site security, material specific shred sizes, recording of the destruction process and the vetting of staff to BS 7858. Given the security-critical nature of this information there can be no room for complacency here. Sadly, a recent survey of public and private sector organisations, undertaken on behalf of the BSIA Information Destruction Section, demonstrated that far


too many are failing to use providers that adopt a best practice approach. In fact only half said they employed a professional provider and, even more concerning, of that number only 50 per cent knew if the information destruction company complied with EN 15713.

Certainly, the implications of

carelessly handling and disposing of data can be enormous, with our Information Destruction Section’s research finding that nearly 19 per cent of organisations questioned had suffered a serious data fraud. Where data breaches occurred it was noted by respondents that half of these involved paper – demonstrating the need for effective shredding – and the rest were related to computer hard-drives. Unfortunately, when a data breach happens the reality is that it can be extremely difficult to limit the damage. Once information is lost the organisation concerned has no ability to control how, where, when or by whom it is used, opening up the prospect of identity theft and other fraudulent activity.


In the end, there is little doubt that, with care and attention, public sector organisations can achieve a sustainable and secure solution to their information destruction needs, meeting their environmental obligations and reducing the risk of headline-grabbing data breaches. For more information about secure and sustainable data destruction and best practice please visit:

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