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Everything you need to know about shredding standards


With companies storing more and more sensitive data, it’s reassuring to know that the Data Protection Act exists to protect an individual’s privacy.

As such, there are certain rules that companies need to be aware of when it comes to confidential waste disposal.

Many businesses don’t know that there are shredding specifications that need to be met when destroying data-sensitive documents.

The complicated world of shredding

Using a specialist provider of document shredding services means that you can leave the worry of shredding standards to them.

However, it’s worth having a basic understanding of the terminology that’s used and what each of the standards means.

We thought we’d use our extensive knowledge to put together this simplified guide to the specifications and acronyms you’ll probably hear when it comes to shredding standards.

In a nutshell

When it comes to destroying confidential documents, the objective is to ensure that these documents can’t be put back together.

This will ensure that the information they contain can’t be compromised. Simple enough, right?

But there are actually two factors that can prevent a document being reconstructed:

  • The size of which the particles have been shredded to
  • The total volume of individual documents being shredded at that time

Shredding standards are in place to help businesses know to what extent these two factors have been considered.

Here's a brief breakdown of the various shredding standards and what they mean

DIN Standards

DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardisation). DIN Standards are based on the results of work at a national, European and/or international level.

The DIN 66399 Level 3 is what we call “standard” document shredding. This is defined as, “data media with sensitive and confidential data as well as personal data subject to high protection requirements”. The maximum shredded particle size at this level would be 320mm2. It's worth noting that this standard relates purely to the technical capability of the shredding equipment.

It doesn't take into account the commercial bulk shredding of confidential material, nor does it make any reference at all to the handling and treatment of confidential material prior to its destruction.

CPNI Standard

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure notes three different classifications of a document:

  • Official Documents: Dispose of with care using approved commercial disposal products to make reconstitution unlikely.
  • Secret Documents: Destroy/sanitise to make reconstitution and/or identification of constituent parts highly unlikely. Use approved equipment and/or service providers.
  • Top Secret Documents: Destroy/sanitise to prevent retrieval and reconstitution. Control methods to witness/record destruction.

As of April 2014, the CPNI Standard says that paper documents classified as Secret or Top Secret must be shredded to a particle size of 60mm2.

Since these documents are particularly sensitive, there are also stringent measures for the handling, storage, transportation and processing at the point of destruction.

They even specify destruction in relation to the font size of information.

For 12pt Times New Roman font, the width along the line of the text should be no more than 4mm, so that no more than two adjacent characters are visible on a single particle.

Note: As per DIN Levels, CPNI Standards typically relate to the destruction of a single sheet of paper, so within its approval the CPNI takes into account the inherent security delivered through bulk processing.

BS EN15713:2009

This is the main standard that is adhered to as it is specifically designed for use by customers and suppliers of regular outsourced secure shredding on a commercial level.

It covers all aspects that relate to the provision of an outsourced shredding service, with specific focus on security and sustainability.

Minimum standards are set for elements such as staff vetting, physical security of shredding facilities, physical security of vehicles used for the transportation of confidential material, etc.

Naturally, we’re familiar with each of these standards and can advise you on which standard your business should be working towards.

Get in touch with our team today if you want to discuss your shredding needs.

Get compliant with Restore Datashred

To find out how shredding confidential documents and destroying hard drives securely can help your business ensure data protection act compliance, contact our team today.