If you run a business, it’s essential to know about confidential waste.

Any document or electronic item that contains personal data about your customers, suppliers or employees counts as ‘confidential waste’. Any document that contains names, addresses, contact numbers, financial data or anything that can be used to identify people counts as ‘confidential paper waste’.

To protect people’s confidentiality, these sensitive papers must be securely disposed of once they’re no longer needed. Shredding is an effective way to destroy paper documents.

Can shredded paper waste be recycled?

Not all local councils will collect shredded paper for recycling. If they do accept it, they’ll ask you to put it in a bag before placing it in the bin. Unbagged shreds often end up in landfill because the size and quantity of the shreds are too small to sort during the recycling process.

But shredded paper can and should be recycled. Recycling your paper:

  • helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • saves resources by using less energy and water
  • can provide savings for your business and reduce your carbon footprint.

Every tonne of paper you recycle saves approximately 17 trees!

Examples of confidential paper waste

Confidential paper waste can be anything containing personal information, from official documents to memos, notes, emails or letters. Even a scrap of paper with a name and address scrawled on it counts as confidential waste.

Typical examples include:

  1. Financial information (e.g. invoices, tax returns, payroll information, bank and credit card statements)
  2. Company information (e.g. company structure documents, pricing structures, supplier information)
  3. Employee information (e.g. application forms, CVs, bank details, payslips, employment records)
  4. Client or customer information (e.g. contracts, contact details, emails, photo ID)

Why must you dispose of confidential waste securely?

Businesses are legally responsible for protecting people’s personal information. The law has changed since the Brexit transition ended, so there are now two versions of GDPR that businesses in the UK must comply with:

  • the UK GDPR, which, with the DPA (Data Protection Act) 2018, applies to the processing of UK residents’ personal data
  • the EU GDPR, which continues to apply to the processing of EU residents’ personal data. 

Businesses must make sure that personal information doesn’t fall into the hands of criminals. If a third party accesses confidential information, they could carry out fraud, blackmail or identity theft.

Businesses that allow security breaches can be fined huge sums of money. And, let’s face it, admitting a data breach is not a good look for any company. Boots, Virgin Media, Tesco, Facebook and many other household names in the UK have all been victims of data breaches.

How does First Mile recycle confidential waste?

First Mile offers flexible confidential waste collections for businesses. You can choose either pay-as-you-go, one-off collections or scheduled, regular collections. Nothing goes to landfill!

  1. Confidential document disposal

We collect sacks of waste paper from companies and transport it to our Sacktory®. We shred confidential papers before sending them to be recycled into new paper products. First Mile’s specialist confidential paper-recycling and paper-shredding services are 100% GDPR compliant. We offer a confidential-waste-shredding service which includes QR barcode scanning and tracking. All our collections are carried out in CCTV-monitored and GPS-tracked low emission vehicles.

Documents are guaranteed to be shredded within 24 hours by our industrial paper shredder at our BS 15713-accredited facilities. We’ll send you a certificate of destruction for your records afterwards.

  1. Confidential data destruction

Careless computer disposal means old laptops and PCs can easily fall into the wrong hands. This is particularly dangerous if they still contain their hard drives, complete with sensitive personal information.

Over half of all cyber-attacks are committed against small- to medium-sized businesses and 60% of them go out of business within six months of succumbing to a data breach or hack.

Data sanitisation is the process of permanently removing or destroying the data stored on a memory device. It means that the data cannot be recovered, even using advanced forensic tools. At First Mile, we offer IT asset-disposal services for laptops, servers, computers, phones and more. We use Blancco, the market-leading data-sanitisation platform, to ensure secure data erasure.

If data wiping isn’t suitable, we’ll shred the devices in our secure facility and send you a certificate of destruction afterwards.

Any parts that can't be reused are recycled into new products by a WEEE recycling specialist. Any waste that can’t be recycled is used to generate green energy.

Read more about our secure shredding service here.

And you can find out more about our confidential data destruction service for laptops, servers, computers, phones and more here.