Confidential waste disposal: what are your options?

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer

Almost every single business produces confidential waste in one form or another. Let’s find out how best to handle yours


Confidential waste disposal is not just for secret agents or covert government operations – it’s something we should all be doing!

Below we’ve explored three ways you can dispose of your confidential waste easily and legally. We’ve also taken it back to basics and defined exactly what we mean when we talk about confidential waste and sensitive information. Finally, we’ve looked at why it matters to get it right (and, spoiler alert: it matters a lot).

In a rush? No worries – simply fill in this quick form with your business’ requirements. A professional can then advise on the best method for you, and how much it’s likely to cost.


What’s on this page?


What is confidential waste?

When you think of confidential waste, bank statements are probably the kind of thing that springs to mind. But the reality is that confidential waste covers way more than that. In fact, confidential waste is any personal information that can be used to identify individuals. That means a name, a phone number, an address… anything personal. And it doesn’t have to be an official document, either: even a post-it note with a name and number scribbled on it is confidential, and must be disposed of accordingly.


Three ways to dispose of your confidential waste:

When it comes to getting rid of your confidential waste, you have three options:


1. On-site shredding

If you don’t have much in the way of confidential waste, it might be worth getting a shredder to handle these documents on site.

Shredders have a security rating (or ‘DIN rating’) of between P1 and P7. P7 is the highest level and is only really necessary for the most strictly confidential documents. A P7 rated shredder slices each sheet into at least 15,000 particles! The minimum rating for confidential documents is P3.

Confidential waste disposal by shredding

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all shredders are created equal!


We love this Fellowes Powershred model which is rated P4, and cross-cuts the paper for added security. It has a jam-proof system and will happily gobble up staples, paper clips, CDs and credit cards.

The downside with shredding on-site is that smaller shredders won’t be able to handle huge volumes, and it’s pretty noisy. You’re also still left with the waste after it has been shredded – it’s just in a different format. One solution to this is to hire a shredder that will be emptied for you on a pre-arranged schedule of service. This is a happy medium between having the documents collected, and handling it all yourself. Pop your details in this form to see how much this would cost your business.

If you process a lot of confidential waste, or if you deal with very sensitive documents, it’s worth looking into getting this collected (see below).


2. Off-site shredding

When so much waste is classed as confidential, it’s easy for it to stack up quickly. That’s why having someone else take care of it for you has plenty of appeal.

A confidential waste disposal company will give you a lockable bin to place the sensitive documents in, and this will then be collected by a certified employee, and taken to one of their ‘destruction centres’ to be shredded. They can empty the bin as often as you need.

Of course, there’s a cost to this service – but it’ll probably be a lot cheaper than you’d imagine. And frankly, if you’re handling a lot of sensitive information, it’s well worth it for the peace of mind – the costs of getting it wrong are hefty to say the least!

▶ Find out more: Best waste management companies


3. Data destruction

When it comes to correctly disposing of confidential waste, there’s more to think of than just paper. Hard drives, tapes etc. all need to be disposed of with the same methodical approach.

Data destruction is definitely best left to the professionals. They can easily erase old hard drives, or grind them into ‘hard drive dust’ for maximum safety.


GDPR and confidential waste disposal: why getting it right is so important

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25th May 2018, replacing the UK’s Data Protection Act of 1998. This new legislation aims to give consumers more control over who has their data, and how it’s used.

So, what does GDPR mean for confidential waste disposal? It means that any individual has the right to request that all their personal data is deleted, and that this is done in a ‘timely manner’. Any data of this kind will, of course, count as confidential, so should be disposed of using one of the methods above.

When it comes to getting GDPR right, the stakes are high. In fact, they’re really high. A proven breach of GDPR legislation can lead to a fine of up to €20 million, or 4% of a company’s annual global turnover (whichever is higher). Having a solution to your confidential waste disposal in place is one important way to make sure you stay on the right side of this law.


Next steps

The disposal of confidential waste is a serious issue with a simple, cheap solution. Three of them, in fact!

If you decide to have your waste collected, read about the best waste management companies for the job. Or simply fill in this quick form now to get a quote now. The best way to stay GDPR compliant and have peace of mind is to leave it to the professionals.

Rob Binns
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, social media monitoring, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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