15 facts about paper shredding

1. The first paper shredding machine was patented by inventor Abbot Augustus Lowe in 1909. But his prototype was never mass-produced: Lowe died only three years after patenting it.

2. In 1935, a German engineer named Adolf Ehinger created a second machine designed to shred paper. He had to create it quickly: its purpose was to destroy hundreds of volumes of anti-Nazi propaganda before Hitler’s secret police could find them.

3. Shredding paper is not just something that happens in the office. The document shredding need of many companies is so great that they hire shredding companies to visit their offices with huge ten-wheelers with giant rear-mounted paper shredding machines.

4. Doctors and health insurance providers have the legal task of destroying documents. Because your patient and client information is so sensitive, state and federal laws dictate that all medical organizations have comprehensive data destruction plans.

5. The practice of shredding paper gained a questionable reputation in 1972, when President Nixon’s agents shredded vast amounts of paperwork in an attempt to cover up the failed attempt to rob the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

6. The largest paper shredders on the market make your office shredder look like a toy in comparison. Many of them will eat just about anything, including (but probably not limited to) binder clips, rubber bands, and hanging folders. Don’t enrage these machines.

7. Due to state and federal laws aimed at preventing identity theft, paper shredding has become its own industry. Many waste management companies have introduced document shredding into their service menus.

8. Home shredding saw a sharp rise in popularity in 1988, the year the United States Supreme Court ruled that personal trash became public property once it hit the sidewalk.

9. Many document destruction services offer a “Certificate of Destruction”, a legal document that guarantees that certain practices were followed in document destruction and that all documents were completely destroyed.

10. Paper shredding used to be the only thing any business had to worry about. But as digitally stored information became mainstream, the need for specialized services to erase and destroy computer hard drives followed suit.

11. Like physicians and health insurance professionals, accountants are legally required to meet certain standards for document destruction. The Gramm-Leach Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1993 outlined steps that must be taken to destroy confidential customer 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 easy for the revolutionaries to re-paste the documents to access the (highly secret) information they had. After this, cross-cut shredders became the norm.

13. According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center and Fellowes, Inc., many Americans believe that identity theft is more likely to occur during online exchanges, although online exchanges account for less than 10 percent of identity theft cases.

14. Some of the most technologically advanced shredding machines cut documents into pieces that are only 3mm by 9mm.

15. The National Association for Information Destruction is the nationally recognized trade association for the shredding industry. It is based in Phoenix, AZ.

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