It’s that time of year again and soon you’ll be zipping W-2s and 1099s through your postage meter and into the mailboxes your associates.
Yep, the holidays are over and tax season is just around the corner. And as that April 15th deadline approaches, so does that glorious date when you can fulfill those New Year’s resolutions to lose weight (well, you knew you were talking about the paper weight in your filing cabinets, but nobody else needs to know that, right?) and to be more organized by getting rid of those business records that have fulfilled their IRS retention periods.
Or maybe your organization follows a document retention schedule and this is where your schedule begins. Kudos, to you, by that way, for adopting a retention schedule as this is a business best practice!
But before you head to the local big box store to buy a shredder or call your local shredding company, here are some things you may want to know.
How much paper do you have to shred?
How much do you have to shred? That’s the question a shredding company will ask. Just like how stepping on the scale gives you an idea of how many pounds you have to shed, it’s a good idea to take a look at what you have and make an estimate of what you have to destroy before you make the contact.
Here’s how to accurately guess how much paper you have to shred:
A grocery bag or a packet — If you’ve got a few packets to shred, you’ll probably be fine to shred them in your small office or home shredder. But if you’ve got a paper grocery bag, a banker box or more full of paper to be shredded, you might consider saving yourself some time (because time is money) and let a shredding company do it for you.
A standard banker box — typically about a foot wide, just over a foot long and about 10 inches deep — holds about 30-35 pounds or 2,000 to 5,000 sheets of paper.
A large legal file box — about 15 inches wide, two feet long and just over 10 inches deep — holds around 50-60 pounds or 4,000 to 5,000 sheets of paper.
So with these amounts in mind, you should be able to look at your files destined for destruction and give a fairly accurate estimate how much paper you have to shred.
How do you want your documents shredded?
This answer is largely dependent on how much you have to shred, how much you want to pay, how much you time you have to complete the job and when you need it done.
If you have a small amount of shredding, a small budget and lots of time, as suggested above, go on ahead and go the DIY route and shred it yourself — if you have a shredder already.
Otherwise, here are the options offered by most shredding companies:
Drop off shredding services — Some companies allow you to stop by at their location and drop off your documents to be shredded. They will store your documents in a locked container until they shred them. They will typically charge a set rate per pound, per box or per bag. As the amount to be shredded is small, the total amount you'll have to pay will be small as well and it could be money saved from buying a shredder or time saved you could spend … I don’t know … jogging.
Offsite shredding — With this kind of service, the shredding company will arrive to your location with a van or box-truck and haul your documents — typically a load as large as you would have a mobile unit shred service — to a shredding facility where they will shred it for you. Because they won’t have to shred it on your time schedule but when they have enough paper to warrant operating their plant-based shredder, they may not charge you as much as they would for onsite shredding. Though cheaper, this option is less secure than mobile onsite shredding as it may not allow you to witness your papers being destroyed and leaves you and your information vulnerable to whomever handles your documents from the time those documents leave your location to the time they are shredded.
Mobile onsite shredding — Some companies have mobile shredding units (trucks equipped with a bin chute and an onboard, typically hydraulically-powered shredder) that will shred your documents at your home or office. These typically handles jobs bigger than what you would do for drop-off service, usually enough to fill a bin — around ten banker-boxes or 300 pounds of paper. As the amount shredded is larger, the price is lower per pound than drop-off service and is charged by the pound. Besides the convenience of curbside shredding service, the advantage with this option is you can witness your sensitive information being destroyed and rendered unusable. This option is the most secure of all shredding service options.
What kind of service do you need?
Especially when it comes to onsite and offsite shredding, shredding companies typically want to know if your shred job is a one-time deal (a purge) or if you are needing ongoing, scheduled or route-based service.
Purge Shredding — Think of this as one massive, intense, post-Holidays diet and workout routine where you really need to shed some pounds ... and fast, you know, before you go on that Caribbean cruise. This is like if you are spring cleaning, undertaking an annual document clean-out or your project is just a one-time occurrence. In this case, you will likely be ordering what shredding companies call purge service. In this case, they will show up on a scheduled day and either haul away all of your files (if doing offsite shredding) or, if using a mobile shredding service, will destroy your documents as you watch.
Scheduled Shredding — Think of this like going Paleo long term, getting a gym membership and actually using it … regularly. It’s now a life-style and you are keeping the pounds off for good. This is like if your office is constantly generating paper waste and records that you don’t want to go into storage but you want to be rid of as soon as is practically possible. This is also a great option if you've got a document retention schedule in place. For route or scheduled-based shredding services, shredding companies will either give you a locked bin or shredding cabinet into which your office would deposit its documents to shred and once a week, two weeks or three weeks or even once a month, your local shredder will then come by and regularly empty your bin or cabinets.
What shredding company should I use?
This depends a lot on how you answered the questions above and on what works out best for you — considering time, budget, shredding needs and amount to be shredded.
But probably the most important factor you will want to consider when comparing shredding companies is their security because it is for security’s sake you are choosing to shred the documents rather than toss them in the dumpster, right?
To this end, you want to make sure that whoever you chose is NAID certified secure. To carry this certification, a shredding company must be familiar and compliant with all shredding laws and standards as observed by NAID (National Association for Information Destruction). The organization annually and randomly audits its members for legal and best practices compliance to ensure client security.
Related Reading: 3 things you should look for in a shredding company
Hopefully, this has been helpful in preparing you for your shredding task. If you have more questions about shredding, following are a number of links on many shredding topics and of course, feel free to contact us.
And just so you know, R.K. Black Shredding provides mobile onsite shredding services, route and purge service, to businesses throughout Oklahoma. We are NAID AAA certified secure and are a member of the Mobile Shredding Association (MSA).
Happy shedding and shredding those pounds (of paper)!
More Related Reading:
5 ways R.K. Black Shredding saves natural resources (Infographic included)
Document Security: Shredding along doesn’t cut it (Video included)
About R.K. Black, Inc.
R.K. Black, Inc. is an Oklahoma City-based, family-owned leading provider of office technology solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in Oklahoma and Kansas. We specialize in everything business technology from copier, fax, printer and scanner technology to document management, onsite paper shredding services, VoIP phone systems and managed IT support to video surveillance solutions.
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