One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
But for one Sheffield firm, it’s the disposal of what companies chuck out that reaps the rewards.
Attercliffe-based Russell Richardson started out almost 40 years ago collecting waste paper to sell to the recycling industry. It isn’t only keeping companies free of clutter these days; it’s keeping them and their customers safe from identity fraudsters and in step with data protection laws, which are to be beefed up in May 2018.
Every week at the confidential shredding, archiving and recycling firm some 200 tonnes of confidential paperwork - from account files and client notes, to bank account records and printed emails - are turned into confetti by the gnashing metal teeth of a gigantic, state of the art shredder, the only one in the entire Sheffield City Region.
The service is relied upon by thousands of local SMEs, law firm Irwin Mitchell’s offices across the UK, the head office of the Formula One Grand Prix team, numerous police forces, motor giants and even famous British fashion designers.
And it’s not only paper these companies need shredding.
A walk through Russell Richardson’s depot is an eye-opener; crates of police uniform containing scores of hi-visibility tabards and jackets, boots, stab vests and helmets wait their turn in the shredder, along with old nursing stock and a container of polo shirts and trousers bearing the logo of a major motor dealership.
“The destruction of these things may seem wasteful, but there will be very important reasons why they have to be destroyed,” said company MD Jonathan Richardson.
“We never find out the exact reasons, but they could be counterfeit, contaminated, defective and dangerous in some way. Years of work building a brand and reputation can be destroyed by counterfeit or faulty products getting into the wrong hands.
“Items of police uniform could have been damaged or outmoded by safer models. Police officers’ lives might be put at risk if they were sent on duty in defective gear; ultimately the force could be liable. And discarded uniform cannot get into the criminal’s world.”
Not one single item, whatever its value, desirability or usefulness, can escape its fate, however.
“It’s more than our reputation is worth. It’s instant dismissal if any of our 22 staff gives in to temptation and an item gets out of this building,” said Jonathan.
“I’m proud to say that in 39 years we have never had to act on that.”