Questions about Shredding

How do I know which records need to be shredded?

All General Records Retention Schedules include the appropriate method for disposition of a record once it has reached the end of its retention period.  Disposition methods include shredding, recycling, or transfer of the records to the University Archives.  The appropriate disposition method is listed right under the retention period.  Examples of confidential or proprietary records include: student files; personnel files; intellectual property; or any records that contain Social Security Numbers, Student ID numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc. Please call Records Management Services (206-543-0573) if you have questions about the confidentiality of specific records.

Who pays for the shredding of my records?

If records are sent to the University Records Center for inactive storage, at the end of their retention period we will pay for shredding.  If records are stored in an office for the full retention period, the office can either chose to shred the records themselves or pay for a vendor to take care of it for them.

What about non-paper records like tapes and disks?

If non-paper records like tapes and disks contain confidential information, then they must also be destroyed in a way that maintains their confidentiality.  If these types of records are sent to the University Records Center for inactive storage, we will pay to have them destroyed confidentially.  If they are stored in an office for the full retention period, we recommend that a vendor take on the destruction.  Most shredding vendors can also handle these formats, although their price structure may be different.

Can you give me the names of vendors who can do the shredding for me?

Current shredding services contract(s) available to the University can be found on the Procurement Services website using the UW Contracts search tool and using the search term "shredding":

Should I be tracking what I shred?

It is important to create an audit trail for the destruction of records, regardless of whether they are shredded or recycled. To ensure an appropriate audit trail, the creation of a Shredding/Recycling Log is recommended. At a minimum, the Shredding/Recycling Log should contain the following information:

  • Record Series Title (this can be found on either the University of Washington General Records Retention Schedule or on a Departmental Retention Schedule created for your office)
  • Inclusive Dates for the records being destroyed
  • Person Authorizing Destruction (this may or may not be the same person who physically oversees the destruction)
  • Destruction Method (shred or recycle)
  • Destruction Date


For a sample Shredding/Recycling Log, click here.

Most importantly, regardless of retention requirements, be aware that all records pertaining to ongoing or pending audits, lawsuits (or even reasonably anticipated lawsuits), litigation holds or public disclosure proceedings must not be destroyed, damaged or altered until the issue is resolved and you are specifically advised that such records may be destroyed.

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