Every business – large or small – will handle some form of confidential waste in their daily operations. As such, this waste must be managed, stored and disposed of correctly – to ensure private data is not leaked. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines, company closure and even criminal charges.
Confidential waste refers to any waste that holds private or confidential information. For example, this could include personnel files (Employee contact details, CVs and application letters) alongside financial records (bank statements, invoices, credit card statements). In short, it refers to any information that should be kept private in the name of security.
Confidential waste is typically a form of Paper Waste, though it should not be thrown away with the rest of your paper products or in your Dry Mixed Recycling Bin.
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As mentioned previously, confidential waste is produced in just about every business operating within the UK and beyond. However, some companies produce larger volumes of confidential waste than others due to the nature of their work. This includes:
Healthcare Providers. Healthcare providers such as hospitals, doctors and dentist surgeries, pharmacies and care homes produce large volumes of confidential waste, typically in the form of medical records.
Offices. As expected, offices also produce large volumes of confidential waste, especially within their sales department. For example, this could include financial records, customer contact details (phone numbers, home and email addresses), alongside any important letters, memos or contracts. Furthemore, ID badges are often considered a form of confidential waste, as they contain specific information about the employee and are sometimes used to gain access to restricted areas.
Schools. Schools and other educational facilities tend to produce large amounts of confidential waste. For example, this includes any information they store regarding both their students and teachers, such as contact details, medical records and photographs. However, the way in which they dispose of this waste is particularly important as the safety of the students in their care is paramount.
Hospitality venues. Hospitality venues also produce large volumes of confidential waste. For example, whenever a ticket is purchased for a concert, a customer must input their name, contact details, and financial information beforehand.
Retailers. Retailers and suppliers also produce confidential waste on a daily basis. While this does include financial records and customer details, it could also include business plans and product samples that they do not want to release until more research has been conducted.
The exact amount of confidential waste produced annually is unclear because it comes in many different forms. However, it’s estimated that we use around 12.5 million tonnes of paper each year in the UK alone, which indicates that confidential waste is produced in large volumes across the country.
Due to the sensitive nature of the material, various laws and regulations dictate how confidential waste should be stored and managed. This includes the Data Protection Act (1988).
If you are found responsible for data breaches, your business can be fined up to 4% of your annual turnover, or £17.45 million, in addition to facing criminal charges.
While obtaining (and storing) confidential information is necessary for many businesses, there are many ways in which we can reduce the amount of confidential waste we can produce. For example:
Companies can reduce paper waste by going paperless and storing all documents digitally. Not only is this a great way to save the planet and reduce paper consumption, but it can also heighten your security procedures, as you can password-protect documents.
Setting up an at work recycling scheme can also help you reduce the amount of paper and confidential waste you produce. Furthemore, you can get off on the right foot by purchasing paper that has already been recycled previously.
Shredding documents after use is a great way to keep private information private. These products can then be recycled, therefore reducing the amount of waste you produce. If not taken to a recycling facility, paper waste is also compostable.
Confidential waste must be handled with the utmost discretion to protect your business, staff and customers. As such, you should ensure that it is stored in the correct bins before disposal. At Divert, we can provide you with free access to the following (lockable) bins:
In addition, we can also provide you with access to paper shred carts, which are highly secure and tamper-proof.
Dealing with confidential waste in an appropriate manner should be one of your biggest concerns as a company owner. However, we can remove the stress from the process by doing the hard work on your behalf. When working with Divert, we offer:
The utmost discretion when handling confidential waste.
Free access to the appropriate bins, bags and storage units.
Daily, weekly, or monthly waste collection and disposal services, in line with all government guidance.
Expert guidance and advice that can be used to tailor your waste management plan and cut costs.
Furthemore, working with Divert gives you great peace of mind – as our 0 Landfill policy means that none of your waste will be sent to a landfill site. Get in touch today to find out more!