Why going green needs a multi-faceted approach for your security

Friday 05 January 2024 -

In this modern age, data drives companies, informs choices, and is vital to our day-to-day existence. It is a multifaceted challenge for businesses, encompassing digital storage including hard drives, servers and phone recordings for example, as well as printed and written content. It resides not only in a digital format, but also in the products and objects that businesses own or manufacture. The convenience afforded by technology creates a risk of data leaks and breaches, a critical factor for businesses when disposing of paperwork, unwanted electrical equipment, and branded products. It can become even more challenging with a mandate to handle any disposal sustainably, with many solutions delivering sustainability but not security, or vice versa. We speak with Don Robins, Director of Printwaste, who offer a solution which is secure, safe and sustainable.

Data is king

Protecting a company’s brand is crucial – letting its redundant or obsolete goods fall into the wrong hands can lead to identity fraud, counterfeit goods, and business reputation being tarnished. Incorrect disposal of confidential data significantly increases the risks of a data breach, which in turn has huge financial ramifications for a business - especially in light of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). That’s why it is recommended to use an information destruction specialist which has industrial machinery that can destroy sensitive information to an unrecoverable state. Shredding is one mainstream form of data destruction, chosen for its simple, cost-effective, and efficient approach. 

Branded products

One type of fraud which is being erroneously overlooked by businesses is branded products, such as branded uniforms, badges, and clothing. If a business is rebranding, has excess stock or sensitive prototypes that need disposing, these must be destroyed securely. If not, they can end up in the hands of criminals and lead to employee impersonations, identity theft and fraud. This also extends to faulty products which should not be allowed to enter the marketplace, such as toys, medications, and cosmetics. The consequences are they could enter the black market and be sold on illegally, which can lead to reputational damage for businesses.

So, while there are critically important reasons why businesses must shred their confidential data, there are also other vital considerations when disposing of unwanted property. Where does it all go? 

Secure, green solutions

When it comes to data disposal, one of the most important things firms can do is make sure the entire business is aware of what actually counts as confidential, otherwise their information will still be at risk, regardless of whether there are robust security strategies in place. This isn’t something businesses have to do alone. Through using a variety of shred size options, a confidential product destruction service will work with companies, taking equal responsibility, to destroy their items and keep their brand protected. They will also work with them to help them understand the different types of confidential materials out there which can be shredded, including paper documents, hard drives & media materials, uniforms and branded goods, as well as credit cards & bank cards which, even if they have expired, still contain confidential information. The challenge is then, how can this be done sustainably, without compromising security?

The heart of most environmental waste management services is material recovery for re-processing. It focusses on obtaining high-quality waste material which can be recycled or repurposed into something new. One of the core challenges to delivering secure services however is that in order for the data storage to be securely destroyed, the material can become too small for straightforward material recovery, limiting the sustainability options considerably. It is here that innovation is key, which is where Printwaste, which offers both confidential data destruction, and environmentally-focussed waste management services, excels. They focus on uncompromising security for all their services, but have an end-to-end ethos that supports businesses to reduce their waste streams, and ensures that every output is managed securely and sustainably. 

Recycling versus landfill

In the UK, an estimated £14 billion worth of valuable metals are discarded each year, emphasising the economic significance of responsible technology waste recycling. What’s more, the recycling of technology reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually. 

Managing the ever-growing amount of waste generated around the world remains a challenge, with huge quantities still sent to landfill. In 2022, more than 10,000 tonnes of rubbish were sent daily to the largest landfill sites around the globe. E-waste is the fastest growing of these waste streams worldwide, making it both an environmental and health hazard and an opportunity for improving business environmental credentials. It is estimated that e-waste generation will increase by an average of two million metric tonnes annually to 74.7 million metric tonnes in 2030, and up to 110 million metric tonnes in 2050 – unless we change how we handle electric and electronic equipment (EEE).

Thankfully, landfill is in decline in the UK. What’s more, Wales, from April 2024 is legislating for separation of all recyclable material from general waste, including waste paper, card, cartons, metal, plastic, glass, food, e-waste and unsold textiles, with other parts of the UK likely to follow thereafter. It is already illegal for businesses to export e-waste to other countries, which means that without landfill, we must find innovative ways to manage waste streams. 

Nowadays, businesses are facing increasing pressure to contribute towards their sustainability goals and demonstrate their environmental performance by having an ESG strategy in place. While recycling enables the re-use of materials and contributes to the circular economy, not everything is recyclable – yet companies can do more by working with Printwaste. 

Innovating practices

Organisations small and large that are disposing of their goods responsibly, must be ethically accountable and compliant as a business, by reducing landfill waste and enabling reuse of raw materials where possible. Printwaste, which has been environmentally-conscious since inception, currently recycle or recover all the materials that they collect, including many that are widely considered difficult or impossible to recycle or too expensive to recover. 

Printwaste also supports businesses with an advisory service that helps to minimise initial waste production, as well as proactively changing to more sustainable options. They then focus on practical innovations that recover hard-to-recycle materials, diverting complex materials from landfill and recycling or recovering up to 99% of the materials that they collect. An approach that supports them to ‘protect tomorrow’s world, today’.

Despite these innovations and dedication to research, there remains a very small percentage of waste that currently has no truly sustainable method for recycling or material recovery. As part of Printwaste’s zero to landfill pledge, it therefore launched its ‘Waste-to-Energy’ initiative, reflecting its commitment to responsible waste management and sustainable business practices that not only minimises waste but creates electricity and heat. The business has secured an environmentally-conscious, waste-to-energy solution, that assures their zero-to-landfill policy, and creates a renewable source of energy for the National Grid. This method improves a business’s green credentials, as well as boosting its brand reputation and providing a cost-effective alternative to sending waste to landfill. 

Business benefits 

The clear advantages to businesses are outlined below:

Maintain business security – through an effective data destruction process, focussed on sustainability that typically exceeds industry standards. 

Achieve business sustainability goals – this increases a business’ environmental performance and contributes towards its sustainability goals. Recycling not only helps preserve the environment, but also creates job opportunities. This in turn helps achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). 

Obtain a full insight – organisations can support their data security, while receiving a detailed recycling and waste audit which aims to help move as much material up the waste hierarchy as possible - typically 40-50% of the materials found in general waste bins is actually recyclable.

Create an eco-friendly form of energy – businesses will boost the UK’s energy supply and security through a sustainable form of energy generation, helping to decrease the use of non-renewable fossil fuels. 

Divert away from landfill – firms will actively divert materials away from landfill, reducing greenhouse gases and contamination. 

Become a workplace zero to landfill – it provides the opportunity to achieve and promote a zero to landfill business. 

Protect your business and the environment by booking your free data consultation today by calling us on 01242 588600 or email us at [email protected] or visit us at www.printwaste.co.uk. 

About Printwaste

Established in 1983, Printwaste is a recycling, confidential shredding, compliance and waste management specialist, which has evolved to meet the needs of the marketplace, changes in legislation and the requirement to protect the environment. It provides a range of solutions to thousands of companies across the UK, helping customers to protect tomorrow’s working world, today.