Shredding paper beats burning it

August 29, 2009

After reading [Tim Altom’s Return on Technology column] in the Aug. 17 IBJ on whether shredding or burning documents provided the greatest security, I felt compelled to send you a note.

Perhaps you haven’t burned papers in a fireplace, and found readable material the next morning that had been in a clump, and only charred on the outside. Or read about criminal cases being prosecuted from reconstructed “burnt” paper found in an ashtray.

This is not to mention the environmental impact of burning paper. I know a little about this subject since I own the oldest mobile document-shredding company in Indianapolis (IndyShred), and have been shredding documents for customers in our region for 15 years.

The option of using a third-party on-site shredding service was not covered in your article, unfortunately, and we provide several additional layers of security beyond that provided by the typical office or home shredder process.

No Dumpster to dive in for either shredded or unshredded documents is one benefit, of course. Also, of particular relevance to the focus on reconstruction of documents in your article is the consolidation and mixing of shredded material from many documents and different customers in our shredding trucks.

With the equivalent of over 1 million letter-sized sheets of paper shredded and tumbled together in the back of each truck before delivery to a recycler for pulping, the challenge of reconstruction becomes orders-of-magnitude more difficult. It has proven a challenge beyond the criminal community, and although still theoretically possible with unlimited resources, I doubt that a government agency would even undertake the task.

The only part of your article that I take real exception to is the suggestion that a downside of shredding is that it draws attention to something worth stealing. This would imply that not locking your house would discourage burglars! The service provided by certified mobile document-destruction companies like IndyShred is a cost-effective solution that can provide the assurance of secure disposal.

Pat Bond

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