Refresh yourself on recycling, read FAQs to keep data safe

Posted by Karen Lykins - Friday, January 07 2011
klykins@tntech.edu
Office of Communications & Marketing

Since the university implemented a new recycling program last fall, employees have made great strides in keeping private data safe and eliminating waste.

Some common questions and concerns have been communicated by faculty and staff since the implementation of the new policy. Glenn Binkley, interim associate vice president of Facilities and Business Services, responds to the most frequently asked questions:

If my garbage contains food waste and similar items along with small paper items, such as Post-it notes, why won't custodians empty that container?

The "mixed" trash may still contain paper with sensitive information written on it. During the sampling of paper disposal conducted August 2010, Post-it note-sized paper was found to contain names, social security numbers, addresses, driver license numbers, and other information deemed sensitive by the University on faculty, staff, students and alumni. Therefore, the "trash" and paper still needs to be separated properly.

Why can't I put paper items that do not have private information (ex. Blank used label sheet or remnants of paper) into my garbage can?

The University custodial staff cannot be placed into the situation of reviewing each sheet of seemingly "blank" paper to see if it is truly blank. The time to review each piece of paper to ensure its "blankness" interrupts their schedule to clean their buildings too greatly. Additionally, if sensitive information is found, the custodians should not be placed in a situation of securing such information.

We have limited space and we have to keep the Cintas bin, the shredded paper containers and the pre-printed bulk material recycle bins all in our office. Is that really necessary?

The security of the containers and their contents begins and ends with the department. Containers out in the open invite break-in, vandalism and theft. Additionally, state fire marshal regulations restrict what can be placed into corridors and hallways.

What is the best way to dispose of large quantities of paper (thousands of sheets) when we pull files that are over a year old? Do we have to spend days and days shredding?

Cintas has an option available to the University to arrange a purge on site. The company would bring its shredder truck on site and shred the large quantities at the site of the department purge.

What if a faculty member returns graded tests or assignments to students and the students place those in a garbage can located in a common area? Will the faculty member be held accountable if that private information is exposed?

As long as the faculty member has returned the tests or assignments to the student and the student disposes the materials, the faculty member has acted properly. However, the faculty member cannot simply throw away the material that contains sensitive student information into trash containers.

As a refresher, any paper being discarded should be handled in one of three ways:

• Shredded within the department.

Shredded papers must be bagged separately and picked up by Facilities personnel. These papers should include anything printed on a desktop printer or handwritten, for example.

• Collected within Cintas bins.

Cintas bins can be used for any handwritten document or those printed on a desktop machine if a shredder is not available or if the volume is too large for shredding in the office. Cintas will transport the paper to its shredding facility for recycling.

• Non-shredded materials within campus recycling bins.

Old recycling bins already located throughout campus may still be used to collect pre-printed bulk materials like newspapers, magazines, professional journals and junk mail with little identifying personal information.

Because of this new system, only non-paper products should be placed in regular garbage bins, and custodians are no longer empty garbage bins if they contain paper because this garbage is transported to the county landfill.

More details on the policy can be found at http://www.tntech.edu/specialreleases/new-recycling-program-keeps-info-safe-helps-environment/

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