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Don’t Drop Your Documents in the Blue Bin

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A Blue Recycling Bin with a Red Do Not Use Shape OverlaidRecycle, recycle, recycle. You’ve had it drilled into your head for years to the point that now you just automatically recycle. If it feels like paper, smells like paper and looks like paper, it goes in the blue box. That’s a good thing, right? Most of the time, yes. But when it comes to confidential documents and data, what you’ve been conditioned to do could be a problem.

Psychology Today suggests that we make about 2,000 decisions every hour. Most of our decisions are made based on preconditioned ideas and thoughts. So, when you discard documents, you may automatically think, “It’s just junk mail,” “It’s just my old boarding pass,” “It’s just an old birth announcement,” or “It’s just an old budget printout.” However, each of these documents contain personally identifiable information (PII) that could put you, your family, your clients, or your business at risk. Here’s why:

  • Welcome to D-Mart. Dumpster divers are often looking for anything they can use, including information you may think is harmless. Some are in search of the documents that you disposed of in your blue bin, and they can make use of bits of information that, on their own, may not seem to be a risk. However, when put together with other publicly-available information about you, you can quickly be facing the nightmare of identity theft or a business data breach.

Even worse, AARP reports that 21% of Americans that don’t shred any of their personal documents. Many of them don’t believe that criminals will go through trash or recycling bins. But they do, and even paper from your shredding machine can be pieced together to use key information to hijack your identity, your funds, your travel points, healthcare and prescriptions, and other accounts.

  • Crooked Colleagues. Insider fraud at your workplace is real. The fraud could be a disgruntled coworker or just one who is looking to make a profit off of you. It could also be a third-party contractor or visitor that enters your workplace. As long as there is intact information in the blue box, there is potential for a security breach.
  • Have Information, Will Travel. If your confidential information makes it past your door and somehow avoids the dumpster divers, it still has a trip to make to the recycling facility. During the recycling process, multiple individuals have access to your information. If the documents do make it to the depot, they will likely sit unattended for a lengthy period of time before they are recycled. They can still be picked up or blown away at any time.

What should go in the blue bin?

Nothing that has any identifiable information. Newspapers, magazines, and some junk mail may contain your personal address and information and should be removed first. Documents must be shredded first. Some recycling companies won’t accept shredded documents in the blue box so unfortunately, shredded material will need to go to landfill. The following documents are not debatable and should be shredded prior to being put in the blue bin.

  • Preapproved credit card offers and applications
  • Expired debit and credit cards
  • Credit card statements, receipts, reports, and histories
  • Bank account statements, receipts, cancelled checks
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Utility and phone bills
  • Investment documents
  • Insurance policy information and claims
  • Tax returns
  • Expired ID cards and passports
  • Medical and dental records

A more affordable and compliant way to ensure your documents are safely and sufficiently shredded and then recycled properly to stay out of landfill sites is to consider partnering with a reputable and professional shredding company.

Wiggins Shredding offers safe and secure residential shredding and commercial shredding in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware. We are also have four drop-off locations in Pennsylvania. To make it convenient, you can do a one-time shredding or set up scheduled routine shredding. Give us a call at 610-692-TEAR(8327) or complete the form on this page so we can answer any questions that you might have.

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