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Seven questions to ask a shredding service provider before making your decision

There are many great reasons to use a shredding service provider. It’s quick, easy, and cost-effective. Plus, you’ll know that your sensitive materials will be professionally destroyed. Shredding services can reduce the risk of reassembly and will also save you the hassle of what to do with your shredded materials. But not all shredding services are made equal.

Here are seven questions we advise you to ask your potential shredding service suppliers before making a decision to sign on the dotted line.

Q1) What do I need to do to prepare for a shredding service?

Before you book your shredding service in, you may have to prepare your materials. For instance, most shredding suppliers will not collect loose papers. This is because there is the risk of loose items being dropped or lost in windy weather.

To save you scrambling around to put paper in boxes or bags, at Shred Station, we can provide heavy-duty nylon sacks and security seals for one-off services, and we’ll send these to you before your collection date. For regular services, we will provide lockable containers, and you can choose which of these you would prefer so they complement your workspace. We can even wrap our cabinets with your own designs!

There is also the case of what materials your supplier can and cannot destroy. Be aware that some shredding service providers will charge you a premium for paper left in plastic wallets or with staples in it. This is sometimes called a contamination charge. With the wrong supplier, your staff could spend hours trying to laboriously pick out staples, or you could receive a hefty charge.

At Shred Station, we do not ask our customers to do this. Our industrial shredders can handle pretty much anything. So, feel free to leave documents in lever-arch files, keep the plastic wallets on, and leave the staples in. We will shred it all. We also recycle 100% of the paper we shred, whether in plastic wallets or not.

Q2) What will happen on the day of the shredding?

On the day of your service, it will usually be a mobile shredding vehicle or an off-site collection vehicle that will arrive at your premises.

With mobile services, your supplier will send uniformed operatives to collect your bags, bins or boxes and put these directly into the shredder on board the vehicle. The operatives should also allow you to witness this shredding from ground level if you wish.

With off-site services, your supplier should send a vehicle with discreet branding. The uniformed operatives will load your material into the truck and transport it back to a secure site for shredding.

If your shredding service supplier’s operatives are not in uniform or do not have photo identification, do not give them your materials. Criminals may try to pose as shredding operatives to attempt to gain access to confidential materials. Be vigilant and if in any doubt, contact your shredding service provider directly. A few uncomfortable minutes of waiting is a price worth paying when your confidential information is at stake.

Q3) Will I receive proof of destruction?

When you first hand over your documents, your shredding service supplier should give you a Waste Transfer Note, either as a physical document or via email. Unfortunately, rogue suppliers do exist so it’s vital to make sure your shredding service provider has a valid Waste Carrier Licence. You don’t want your materials to end up fly-tipped!

The second piece of proof you should receive is a Certificate of Destruction. If your service happens on-site at your premises, the supplier should issue this immediately after destruction. If you have an off-site shredding service, your Certificate of Destruction should be with you within a few days. This short delay with off-site services is due to the admin involved in acknowledging materials have arrived back at the shredding facility, allowing 24 hours for the materials to be destroyed as per EN 15713 standards, and how quickly the company’s admin team can get that certificate sent out to you.

Q4) What will happen to my materials after shredding?

Once destroyed, your shredding service provider should be mixing your materials with other customers’ materials. This process, known as commingling, helps to prevent the risk of reassembly. Once mixed, the supplier should, at a minimum, be recycling 100% of the paper they shred and avoiding landfill for non-paper materials.

Q5) How do I know my confidential materials will be safe?

A reputable shredding company will have the resources at hand to prove compliance with UK shredding standards and GDPR. They will vet all staff to BS7858 standards, and a trustworthy shredding supplier will have up-to-date accreditations.

Q6) What accreditations should I look for when choosing a shredding service provider?

ISO 9001 incorporating EN 15713

The first accreditation you should look out for is a UKAS ISO 9001:2015 certification incorporating BS EN 15713. The ISO 9001 accreditation assesses the quality management system of an organisation. The incorporation of EN 15713 (the UK’s standard for secure shredding services) ensures that data security is built into the supplier’s management system. It essentially shows that the supplier behaves responsibly and compliantly with your data.

ISO 14001 incorporating EN 15713

The second accreditation your supplier should have is a UKAS approved ISO 14001:2015 certification, also incorporating BS EN 15713. The ISO 14001 certification assesses an organisation’s environmental management system. The incorporation of EN 15713 ensures the supplier operates in an environmentally sound way without risking your data security.

PCI DSS Level 1 Service Provider

Thirdly, PCI DSS Level 1 Service Provider accreditation ensures that the supplier is taking adequate measures to protect customers’ cardholder data when taking payments.

Cyber Essentials

Fourthly, Cyber Essentials certification ensures the supplier is taking adequate measures to protect their systems from cyber security breaches.

These four accreditations are the most important when establishing whether a supplier will keep your information safe.

It’s worth bearing in mind that shredding suppliers should look to go beyond these accreditations. Membership in professional security associations such as the BSIA and UKSSA is a good sign that your supplier is striving to be at the epicentre of national conversations around shredding security.

Q7) What is my shredding service supplier doing to protect the environment?

When choosing any supplier, it’s important to consider their environmental commitments. If you’re taking measures to reduce emissions, but outsource services to companies that don’t care about the environment, that could be a step backwards for your sustainability objectives.

At Shred Station, we have been CarbonNeutral® certified since 2019 and have many environmental commitments in place. One of the key pillars of our ethos is to cause minimal environmental damage. We strive to achieve that goal every single day.

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