Using Shredders Versus Shredder Services

By DON CIO Privacy Team - Published, September 1, 2009

Privacy TipThis Privacy Tip is a summary of input received from information assurance personnel, security personnel and privacy officials from a variety of commands across the Department of the Navy and Joint Forces Command. The information is intended to represent best business practices and should not be considered DON policy, unless otherwise noted.

SECNAV INSTRUCTION 5211.5E, "Department of the Navy Privacy Program," paragraph 8b.(1) states that, "disposal methods are considered adequate if the records are rendered unrecognizable or beyond reconstruction (e.g., tearing, burning, melting, chemical decomposition, burying, pulping, pulverizing, shredding or mutilation).


  • Depending on the type, a shredder can be used for both classified (up to secret) and unclassified documents.
  • Command/unit has control over entire shredding process.
  • Convenient disposal of documents is performed, as needed.
  • Shredder operation creates significant dust/paper particles and can be noisy.
  • Redundancy of shredder machines is needed as mechanical breakdowns are common.
  • Not all shredders "render documents unrecognizable." Strip shredders may be inadequate; consider use of high-security crosscut paper shredders. (View the list of NSA/CSS Evaluated Products.)
  • Expends man-hours. One estimate states that it takes an employee five hours to shred 50 pounds of paper.
Shredder Services
  • Frees up man hours and saves physical space.
  • Documents can be shredded on site or taken away and destroyed.
  • Certificates of destruction are issued providing documentation of secure disposal.
  • No equipment to buy.
  • Bulk disposal is efficient. One estimate stated disposal of 3,000 pounds of paper was performed in 2.5 hours for about $400.
  • Shredder services are available on GSA contract and appear to be very secure. One respondent stated that they secretly watched the entire onsite destruction process and found it to be very secure.
  • May not be available in all geographical areas.
  • Difficult to apply to operational units/ships.
Other Best Practices to Consider:
  • Container/bin marking/color coding is important to ensure personnel do not confuse documents with personally identifiable information as trash or paper meant for recycling.
  • Monthly or quarterly spot checks are an effective means to monitor the disposal process.
  • Local command disposal policies must be clearly understood and implemented.
  • Disposal program responsibilities should be assigned to privacy coordinators, security officials or information assurance personnel.
  • Local disposal policy should be included in privacy awareness training.
List of GSA approved Shredder Services:
  • Olympia Business Systems, Inc.; GS-25F-0023L
  • BlueRidge Document Shredding, Inc.; GS-03F-0023V
  • Pitney Bowes; GS-25F-0010M
  • Land Shark Shredding LLC; GS-25F-0010U
  • Shredit USA Inc.; GS-25F-001M
  • ABM Federal Sales; GS-14F-0167D
  • Dahle North America, Inc.; GS-02F-0112P
  • HSM of America; GS-02F-0112P
  • MONO Machines; GS-02F-0138U
  • USA Impact; GS-14F0012K

TAGS: Privacy, Strategy