Does Burning Confidential Documents Work?

Partially burned documents lay in a pile of ashes and a NO symbol is overlaying the image.

In 2003, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) set stringent rules for businesses regarding the disposal of sensitive consumer information. Among the suggested methods of destruction was burning. However, while burning may seem like a straightforward solution, it comes with its own set of challenges. Let’s delve into whether burning confidential documents truly works and explore better alternatives.

Environmental Impact

Burning documents releases harmful gases into the air and produces ash containing toxic residue. In an era where environmental consciousness is paramount, opting to burn records isn’t wise. Shredding offers a greener alternative. Professional shredding companies ensure that shredded material is fully recycled, minimizing environmental impact and allowing for the creation of new products from destroyed paper.

Compliance Concerns

The primary goal of document destruction is to comply with federal and state privacy laws, ensuring that information is rendered unreadable and irretrievable. While burning is technically compliant, it’s not always effective. Stacked papers may not burn completely, leaving information exposed. Additionally, burning individual sheets is time-consuming and doesn’t guarantee thorough destruction. Opting for a shredding company provides documented proof of proper destruction, offering peace of mind and compliance assurance. Look for a shredding company that is NAID AAA Certified for assurance that your information will be securely destroyed in compliance with data privacy laws.

Safety Hazards

Burning documents poses personal safety risks, especially when done in home fireplaces. Paper ink contains metals that emit toxic fumes when burned. Moreover, burning paper can lead to chimney fires if flames ignite creosote deposits. Embers from burning paper floating out of your chimney or out of your fire pit pose a fire hazard to neighboring properties. Shredding eliminates these safety concerns, offering a safer and more controlled method of document disposal.

Legal Restrictions

Many areas prohibit open-air burning or burning household garbage due to the risk of wildfires, especially in dry environments. These restrictions limit the flexibility of burning documents on demand, potentially leading to prolonged document retention periods and increased risk of loss or theft. Shredding provides a compliant and practical solution, ensuring documents are securely destroyed regardless of legal restrictions.

Time Efficiency

Burning documents is a time-consuming process, requiring the collection and slow feeding of papers into a fire. However, there’s no guarantee of complete destruction. Shredding is a far more efficient option, offering compliant destruction while saving time and effort. Partnering with a professional shredding company for regularly-scheduled document shredding streamlines the process, making it both efficient and cost-effective.

While burning confidential documents may be possible, it’s not the most professional, compliant, or environmentally friendly option. Shredding with a reputable shredding company offers a safer, more secure, and greener alternative.

DeVries Business Services is a NAID AAA Certified shredding company serving Spokane, Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho and Northeast Oregon. We provide scheduled shredding, purge shredding, and you get to choose between on-site shredding or off-site shredding options. Whichever option you choose, we ensure your documents are never vulnerable to theft or loss.

Instead of burning your documents, contact us at 866-433-4691 or complete the form on this page for secure and compliant document disposal. Trust us to safeguard your sensitive information while prioritizing environmental responsibility.

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601 E Pacific Ave
Spokane WA 99202

(509) 838.1044
(208) 765.4397
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