Paper Shredding Facts
Ever wonder when the first paper shredding machine was patented? Or what a “Certificate of Destruction” is? There are a lot of interesting facts and quite a bit of history behind what has become the commercial paper shredding industry. Check out these fast-facts and get your shredding knowledge up to speed.
1. The first paper shredding machine was patented by inventor Abbot Augustus Lowe in 1909. But his prototype never saw mass production — Lowe died only three years after patenting it.
2. In 1935, a German engineer named Adolf Ehinger created a second machine designed for paper shredding. He had to create it in a hurry: Its purpose was to shred hundreds of volumes of anti-Nazi propaganda before Hitler’s secret police could find them.
3. Paper shredding isn’t a task exclusive to in-house use. Nowadays, firms rely on document destruction companies to handle their shredding needs. These companies come equipped with mobile shredding trucks that are able to get the job done, on-site, and are able to handle far more than your standard office shredder.
4. Doctors and health insurance providers are legally tasked with proper record keeping and destruction. Because their patients’ and clients’ information is so sensitive, state and federal laws dictate that all medical organizations have comprehensive data-destruction plans.
5. The practice of paper shredding gained a questionable reputation in 1972. President Nixon’s operatives shredded huge amounts of paperwork in an attempt to cover up the bungled attempt to burglarize the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.
6. The biggest machines on the market make office shredders look like playthings in comparison. Many of these commercial shredders destroy just about anything, including (but probably not limited to) binder clips, rubber bands, and hanging file folders.
7. Because of state and federal laws aimed at preventing identity theft, paper shredding has grown into its very own industry. Many waste management companies have introduced paper shredding and document destruction into their service menus.
8. Paper shredding in the home saw a marked rise in popularity in 1988 — the year the United States Supreme Court ruled that personal trash became public property once it hit the curb.
9. Many services offer a “Certificate of Destruction” — a legal document that ensures that certain practices were followed in the destruction of documents, and that all of the documents were completely destroyed.
10. Securely destroying paper documents used to be the primary concern in terms of safeguarding sensitive information, but we are now in the digital era. As digitally-stored information becomes more widespread, the need for specialized services to erase and destroy computer hard drives follows suit.
11. Like doctors and health insurance professionals, accountants are legally bound to adhere to certain document destruction standards. The Gramm-Leach Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1993 outlines the measures that must be taken to destroy sensitive client information.
12. Iranian revolutionaries changed the way we approach paper shredding in 1979, when several of them stormed the American embassy and seized piles of shredded documents. Since the embassy’s shredders only cut paper into long, thin strips, it was simple for the revolutionaries to paste the documents back together to access the (highly secret) information within.. After this, cross-cut shredders became the norm.
13. According to a survey by the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center and Fellowes, Inc., the country’s leading manufacturer of machines, many Americans believe identity theft is more likely to occur during online exchanges — even though online exchanges represent less than 10 percent of identity theft cases.
14. The National Association for Information Destruction is the paper shredding industry’s nationally recognized trade association. It is headquartered in Phoenix, AZ.