Maintaining control over the confidentiality of sensitive information is a top priority in our data-driven world. As organizations handle vast amounts of critical data, it is essential to protect it from falling into the wrong hands.

Shredding documents is a widely accepted method of ensuring data security. However, the process of shredding itself must be executed with care to maintain the integrity and privacy of the information. This is where a secure chain of custody matters.

In this blog post, we delve into the importance of a secure chain of custody and compare the processes followed by offsite and onsite shredding companies to help you choose the best data destruction for your business.

What is a Secure Chain of Custody?

A chain of custody refers to the documentation of the handling, transfer and storage of sensitive information to ensure responsibility and maintain the integrity of data throughout the destruction process. Having a well-defined chain of custody ensures that organizations can maintain compliance with regulatory and legal requirements, protect themselves from a data breach and retain customer trust with secure and responsible data destruction.

Offsite Data Destruction Chain of Custody Process

Offsite shredding companies typically offer businesses a convenient way to dispose of large quantities of documents. When working with an offsite shredding service, the chain of custody includes the following steps:

  1. Collection: The offsite shredding company provides secure collection containers to the organization. These containers are lockable and tamper-proof, ensuring that the documents are stored securely until pickup.
  2. Transportation: Trained personnel from the destruction company collect the containers and transport the sensitive documents to an offsite warehouse. The process should include security measures, such as GPS tracking, to minimize the risk of data compromise while in transport.
  3. Offsite Facility: Once at the shredding warehouse, the documents are stored until they are ready for data destruction. Access to the facility should be restricted to authorized personnel only, and strict security protocols are to be in place to prevent unauthorized access.
  4. Shredding: The documents are destroyed using industrial-grade shredders, ensuring complete data destruction of the confidential information. The process should also be conducted under video surveillance for transparency.
  5. Proof of Destruction: After data destruction is complete, the offsite shredding company should issue a Certificate of Destruction. This document serves as proof that the documents were securely destroyed and can be used for audit trail and compliance purposes.

Onsite Data Destruction Chain of Custody Process

Onsite document destruction companies, also known as mobile shredding services, are unique because they offer the advantage of destroying sensitive records at your location. Here is an example of how the chain of custody typically unfolds with an onsite service like Blue-Pencil:

  1. Collection: Your organization is provided with locking and tamper-proof collection containers throughout your office that remain on your premises throughout the entire destruction process for a complete chain of custody.
  2. Preparation: Trained security representatives will arrive at your location in a specialized shredding truck. The personnel will collect and transport the locked containers from your office to the awaiting truck where the contents are emptied directly into the shredding machine located within the vehicle.
  3. Shredding: The documents are shredded onsite using high-capacity, industrial equipment. The entire destruction process can be witnessed by your employees on closed-circuit television, ensuring complete transparency and peace of mind.
  4. Proof of Destruction: Once your documents and hard drives are finally destroyed, you will receive a Certificate of Destruction to validate that your archived documents were securely destroyed. Any hard drive serial numbers will also be documented to keep track of their hard drive shredding.

Comparing Offsite and Onsite Data Destruction Companies

Both offsite and onsite shredding companies aim to provide secure and reliable shredding services. However, there are important differences to consider when comparing the chain of custody processes:


Both offsite and onsite shredding offers organizations the convenience of having documents collected from their location, but onsite shredding eliminates the need for transportation as the collection and shredding are done onsite.

Witness Shredding

Onsite shredding allows you to witness the process firsthand, providing an added layer of assurance and transparency. This is not possible with offsite providers.

Security Measures

While offsite companies may have facilities with strict access controls, only onsite shredding ensures that sensitive business documents and records never leave your premises prior to destruction. Doing so minimizes the risk of data compromise, identity theft or loss of sensitive data during transportation and ensures a secure chain of custody.

Handling of Paper

Offsite document shredding companies have more points of contact throughout the document shredding process, which increases your business’ risk of an information breach, unrestricted access, loss or theft. On the other hand, onsite destruction companies never come in contact with your confidential papers, as they are directly loaded into the truck’s shredding equipment from the locked console.

Protect Your Private Information with Blue-Pencil’s Destruction Services

At Blue-Pencil, our NAID AAA Certified mobile shredding services make it easy and convenient to destroy your confidential paper material, hard drives, obsolete IT equipment and digital media assets. Whether you need a one-time shred or a regularly scheduled service, our highly trained and fully bonded professionals will come to your premise and securely destroy your materials as you watch. We’ll also issue an immediate Certificate of Destruction to ensure a secure chain of custody and compliance with privacy laws.

To learn more details about our comprehensive and secure paper and hard drive destruction services, contact our customer service team to discuss your needs or click here for a free quote.

Interested in learning more details about using onsite destruction to keep your critical documents secure? Check out these related blog posts for additional insights: