Document Retention and Shredding Go Hand in Hand

The hands of two people are shown placing two puzzle pieces together.If I asked you who Bernie Taupin was, would you know that he wrote the lyrics to most of Elton John’s songs, including some of his biggest hits, like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rocket Man, Bennie and the Jets, and both versions of Candle in the Wind? While you are probably most familiar with Elton John, you would never have enjoyed his musical successes without the brilliant lyrical poetry of Bernie.

I could list an endless number of similar match-ups that were effective because of their partnership. When it comes to your business, you may have assumed that retention dates and shredding were two important—but separate—entities, but the truth is that they are most effective and important when they work hand in hand.

Retention Dates

Your unique business documents, whether on paper or in electronic form, have a designated lifespan. The length of time that you can hold on to those documents is industry-specific unless they are being used for litigation purposes.

While many documents have a lifecycle of somewhere between a few months and a few decades, others have an unlimited retention period and must be kept indefinitely. Knowing those dates is extremely important. The documents must be securely protected and maintained up until the retention date, but must also be destroyed at the end of their lifecycle. If a document is kept beyond its retention date, you are non-compliant with data protection laws.


When a document’s lifespan has come to an end, the chain of custody of that information must be maintained until the document is destroyed.

The only way to remain compliant with retention laws is to destroy the documents so they cannot be read or recovered. Disposing of documents in the recycling or garbage does not fulfill data retention and destruction regulations because it leaves the information vulnerable to theft and misuse.

A recommended process for shredding includes outsourcing your document destruction to a local, reputable shredding company that will make sure your documents are properly destroyed and meet privacy law requirements. Make sure the shredding company you choose also meets these criteria:

  • NAID AAA Certification. A certified company is held to the highest level of expectation.
  • If your shredding company can also manage your records, even better. They can store and protect your records and destroy them at the end of their lifecycle so you remain compliant with data privacy laws.
  • They can provide you with a Certificate of Destruction when your documents have been shredded. This will complete the chain of custody and give you proof of your legal compliance.
  • Recycling is a standard part of their shredding process. A responsible shredding company will recycle 100% of their shredded paper so it can be made into new paper products and stay out of the landfill.

Document Retention and Destruction Laws

Several state and federal laws set requirements for maintaining and destroying your records:

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), passed in 2002, puts restrictions on how a business manages their documents.
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) dictates how medical facilities handle the protection and confidentiality of their patients’ health records.
  • The California Code of Regulations, Title 8 stipulates guidelines on retaining employee health records.
  • The California Revenue and Tax Code, Section 19404, regulate the retention of income tax records to 6 years.

Document retention and shredding really do go hand in hand. Each supports the other to help keep your organization compliant and give you peace of mind.

Pacific Shredding provides NAID AAA Certified shredding services to businesses and residents throughout California’s Central Valley. We also offer records management, scanning and imaging, and data vaulting services through Pacific Records. For more information, simply give us a call at 800-685-9034 or complete the form on this page. Our friendly shredding experts are standing by!

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