Paper Shredding Facts

The Invention of Paper Shredders

Paper shredding machines were first designed over 100 years ago by Abbot Augustus Lowe in 1909. Although Lowe patented the idea, he passed away before creating a working prototype, and it took many years for shredders to become popular.

Did You Know That It’s Not Illegal for Individuals to Search Through Your Trash?

— In a landmark case, California vs. Greenwood, in January 1988, the court of appeals made a significant ruling:

— The Fourth Amendment doesn’t forbid the search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the home’s property (pages 39-44).

— Criminals may sift through your garbage to find personal information, putting you at risk of theft. To protect yourself, make sure to shred all personal documents before disposing of them.

Rise in Popularity

Paper shredders didn’t become common household items until the late 1980s. Their popularity surged in 1988 after a Supreme Court ruling allowed warrantless searches and seizures of garbage left outside for collection. This led to increased use of shredders to protect personal and business information.

Importance for Everyone

Shredding isn’t just for large companies—homeowners and small business owners also need to shred personal documents. Identity thieves target individuals too, making it crucial to destroy personal documents before disposing of them.

Shredding Laws 

Document shredding is essential not just for security but also for following the law. Various state and federal regulations require businesses to safeguard private information about their employees and customers. To comply with these laws, it’s necessary to destroy all outdated and confidential business data. Safely shredding documents that are no longer needed is crucial for protecting your business.

  • One important law is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established in 1995. It mandates that healthcare professionals shred discarded patient information responsibly.
  • Another key law is the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) of 2003. It aims to reduce identity theft risk by requiring responsible shredding of discarded customer information.
  • Additionally, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), enacted in 1999, demands that banking and financial institutions safeguard consumer data privacy.

Shredder Security Levels

Paper shredders can produce a variety of particle sizes, with the highest security levels creating tiny particles as small as 5 square millimeters. These minuscule shreds make it nearly impossible for thieves to reconstruct the original documents.

Non-Paper Shredding

While paper shredders are common, there are also machines designed to destroy non-paper materials like IDs, cards, CDs, hard drives, and more. These devices contain sensitive information and require careful disposal, just like paper documents.

Outsourcing your Shredding is Cost-Effective 

Outsourcing your shredding is a smart financial choice. When you factor in employee wages and benefits, as well as depreciation and maintenance costs on equipment, operating an office shredder can cost over $100 per month. Additionally, professional paper shredding saves valuable time spent on in-house document disposal tasks, boosting productivity and revenue generation.