Securing the future with sustainability and enhanced security

March 6, 2024



SJUK speaks to Elliott Garner at Avena Group about how companies can bolster their security and boost their sustainability credentials.

What is confidential waste?  

Confidential waste is anything that contains sensitive data, brand and IP.

This can be from a logo on branded uniform to documentation or contained in electronic devices.  

How might criminals use the different types of confidential waste? What does this mean for businesses?  

Criminals are working harder to find new ways to obtain sensitive data to exploit vulnerable businesses and organisations.  

Documentation: Businesses without a secure document destruction solution in place are surprisingly easy targets for criminals, even if they have an internally managed process.

Criminals will often find these documents in outdoor bins and laying around in public areas. It only takes one document that hasn’t been properly disposed of to cause a serious breach.  

Uniform, workwear and textiles: In recent years this has become a more prominent type of breach.

From police uniform being sold online to criminals taking branded uniforms out of general waste bins, there’s a growing number of ways criminals are getting their hands on branded garments and impersonating officials, staff members, care givers, officers of the law and many more.

Avena is working hard with businesses and organisations across all industries to ensure they never have to experience a breach through illegal and unauthorised impersonation or sale of branded garments.  

IT & Media: Since the computer became popular, criminals have found ways to obtain data to hold businesses ransom and leak private information, usually millions of customer records.

The most concerning form of breach through technology is not through the hacking of devices that are in use, but through obtaining devices that have reached the end of their usable life.

When businesses implement new systems and upgrade devices, the old ones are usually put in unsecure storage locations on-site or disposed of through general waste.

Very few businesses go through the process that takes little effort to properly dispose of data that could be the end of their enterprise.   

What are the security benefits of a document shredding service over an office shredder?  

Office shredders are the familiar choice, but many businesses are under the illusion that having and using a shredder is GDPR compliant; we can assure you it is not.

The process around the shredding of documents is what makes the whole process compliant. Using a document shredding service ensures your business is complaint, no ifs, no buts.

The Avena service provides a full audit trail, a fully secure collection, transportation, shredding and recycling process and most importantly a certificate of destruction.

This combined mitigates the risk of breach and hefty fines.  

What are the security benefits of other confidential waste services, for example, uniform?  

Whilst we can’t speak for all destruction providers, Avena’s solution ensures security is at the forefront every step of the way.

Our solution ensures end-of-life workwear and uniform is placed in our locked receptacles based in prominent locations around our clients’ sites.

The strict instruction of returning old uniform means it doesn’t go home with staff, end up in landfill or the wrong hands.

Garments are collected by our fully vetted customer service team and transported in location and CCTV tracked vehicles.

Once the collection arrives at one of our secure depots, it is sorted and shredded to beyond recognition, ensuring logos and information are no longer recognisable.  

What are the sustainability benefits of a confidential waste service?  

The sustainability benefits are vast.

With Avena’s zero to landfill policy it ensures that every item we collect, whether it be paper, textiles or electronic, is recycled through the most sustainable process.

Our clients have found specific CO2 savings and even the mention of the adoption of secure recycling alone has been a key factor in contract discussions and winning tenders.

It’s success through sustainability. Securing the Future  

Which sectors require a confidential waste service the most?  

Through our 10+ years in business, we have identified the key industries that require this type of service the most and are most vulnerable to breach.

These are: Legal, Financial, Education, Health, Utilities, Construction, Transport and Home Builders.

Avena is in a fortunate position to not only protect national and international businesses but also service SME’s.  

How widespread is the adoption of these services?  

The adoption of secure destruction solutions is increasing, however 6 in 10 business do not have a service of any kind.

Avena is working hard to ensure businesses are aware of the risks and understand how to become compliant.  

What are the barriers to adoption?  

With documentation it’s generally the education of GDPR and the ICO. GDPR is a widespread term but not everyone fully understands the implications of handling, protecting, and destroying data.

Luckily our industry experts are always on hand to provide the information businesses need to be compliant.   

Some companies we speak with are under the impression we make a profit on the items we collect, in turn giving them the illusion we provide our services free of charge.

This could not be further from the truth. All costs associated with our services are directly correlated to the security, sustainability and innovation we provide.  

Can you give any examples (without naming names) of companies that have come to you because they have fallen victim to theft of confidential waste?  

The list is long and is growing.

Avena has recently started with a police constabulary, logistics companies and designer fashion brands for a host of security reasons.

These range from impersonation to official government garments being sold on online marketplaces and brand dilution due to widespread negative press.

These companies and organisations have seen how easy it is to have a breach without having a secure solution in place and are spreading the word.  

How do you see uptake of these services increasing in the coming years? Why?  

We’re currently seeing an exponential uptake in our secure destruction solutions, and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.

The need across all industries has never been higher. With businesses seeing the impact a breach can have and the fines associated, they’re quick to react.

As a minimum, we strongly urge businesses and organisations to ensure they at least have an internal process to handle the destruction and handling of documentation, branded textiles and electronic devices.   

About Avena 

When was Avena established and what was its vision at that time?  

Avena was founded in 2011 by our managing director, Ken Crawshaw. Initially offering secure destruction of documentation, Avena has seen rapid growth and the addition of two more secure destruction services.

The vision has always been and will always be security, we are ‘Securing the Future’ for our clients, our business and our staff.   

Talk us through each of your services?  

SECURALL is our secure destruction and recycling for documentation. It protects businesses and organisations against breaches whilst ensuring they are fully GDPR compliant.  

SECUREBRAND is our secure destruction and recycling solution for uniform, workwear, PPE and textiles. It has seen fantastic uptake and is now our fastest growing service nationally and internationally. It’s security and sustainability benefits are unrivalled.  

SECURETECH is our secure destruction and recycling solution for any electronic device that currently holds or has held data.  

Can you share any customer success stories?  

We are currently working with our clients to share their success stories in video showcase format, most recently we filmed and published a project with our telecom client EE highlighting security and sustainability benefits.

We have more exciting professional showcase videos coming soon, be sure to follow us on social media.   

A testimonial from Subway UK & Ireland reads: “When we met with Avena we were looking for a better standard of service for our recycling needs.

“They have certainly not let us down. Since working with Avena we have received a great level of service and timely and consistent collections.

“Their office located recycling units blend in with our existing furniture. We are very pleased with the product and would recommend Avena without hesitation.”  

This article was originally published in the March Edition of Security Journal United Kingdom. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.


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