Daily grind as ‘great journey’
Eco-conscious Chico company shreds, recycles
A pastel mosaic of tiny shreds of paper compacted into bales—the amalgamation of people’s leftover paperwork—fills a corner of Access Information Management’s huge warehouse area, dwarfing anyone who stands before it. Tax forms, pay stubs and full-color advertising slicks are transformed into huge, brick-shaped slabs that are 6 feet long, 3 feet high and 3 feet wide, and piled nearly to the ceiling.
In the first nine months of this year, Access Information Management in Chico recycled 1,157 tons of shredded paper. This number represents a savings of 3,820 cubic yards of landfill space.
Access is tucked away on Country Drive in south Chico, where there’s not much through-traffic; this is where its giant, noisy shredder performs its daily grind. The company provides confidential document shredding and record storage for individuals, small businesses, school districts and libraries all over the North State.
Operations supervisor Keith Mitten, who oversees the company’s nine employees, is proud of Access’s environmentally geared efforts and services, which include regular fuel-efficiency audits and maintenance on company vehicles, formaldehyde-free shredding containers, 100-percent recyclable storage cartons, the use of nontoxic cleaning supplies in the Access building, and company-provided reusable beverage containers and filtered water for employees (no disposable cups or plastic bottles).
Another green component of Access’s practices is recyclable pouches. If a file is requested from Access’s document storage area, it is placed in a reusable pouch made of recyclable PVC-coated nylon, which is collected after delivery.
But, said Mitten, “The biggest way we are green is we recycle all [shredded] confidential documents. The recycled paper, after it’s shredded, is under lock and key. Then it goes to our recycling center [International Paper Co. in Sacramento], where it’s turned into other products,” such as cardboard, paper towels and tissues.
“We service the full life cycle of information management, from smaller businesses who need offsite storage and document shredding, to major companies,” said regional branch manager Andrew Vue (Access is headquartered in Livermore). “People are going to always have paper needs. And that requires shredding.” Access also can store digital files, tailoring a plan that meets the needs of each client.
Access’s info-storage systems prevent unauthorized people from getting to company information. Human-resources and other confidential files can be stored away from employees, and companies can request retrieval of documents from Access when the files are needed.
“A disgruntled employee could delete a digital file, but information stored here is backed up constantly,” Vue said. “If their data goes down, we have backup and can get them up and running again.”
Access treats its clients on a case-by-case basis. If an organization needs files destroyed—but not for 10 years, say—Access can take care of that, too. Vue calls it a “‘chain of custody,’ so that at any moment we know where it is and how to get it.”
As far as individuals go, Mitten discourages growing massive collections of old papers at home. “Basements and back yards are not viable options. What if you have a leak in the roof? The fire marshal doesn’t like papers stored in basements or attics, as it can be a fire hazard.”
Vue and Mitten see their industry’s future going toward electronic scanning of important documents. But, with cost of scanning documents running at $300 a “banker’s box,” the sticker shock of $30,000 to scan 100 boxes hits hard. Access also can scan only the documents businesses want, and securely store the rest.
Access also provides large-scale shredding services for entities such as Chico State’s Associated Students Recycling program, which recycles large amounts of unwanted paper on a regular basis.
“Access is the AS’s recycling partner,” offered Eli Goodsell, AS Recycling coordinator. “We get lots of donations of used books, many from libraries throughout the county. We usually recycle 60,000 pounds of books a year that are not usable.”
As much as 10,000 pounds of those books are repurposed, Goodsell said, “but some are in bad condition, or irrelevant today … like a 1970s book on local and state laws.
“Items we find we don’t have a use for go to Access to be recycled so it’s not thrown away. Storing books takes up time and space.”
In Access’s grinding room, 200 bales of shredded, compacted documents are produced each month. Each bale weighs 1,300 pounds. The bales are driven away by 53-foot trucks that can carry 45,000 pounds of paper each.
Access has been used by a variety of people including retired doctors, who need to continue to store patient records after they stop practicing. “We can also help senior homes,” Vue said. “A lot of their clients are at the age where they can be easily victimized by thieves. I think we’re helping a lot. We want to be involved in what’s going to help the city and community.”
Emphasizing a commitment to being locally focused, Vue said that Access uses local vendors and services—such as Earl’s Plumbing, Sanitorial Janitorial Service and What a Pane Window Cleaning—whenever possible. Access is also a sponsor of the annual Almond Bowl run and the Honky-Tonkin’ on the River music festival held at Scotty’s Boat Landing as a benefit for Handi-Riders, an equine-assisted therapy program for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
“That’s who we are,” Vue said. “We’re about the people and clients that are here. We try to be good neighbors. … We want partners to partake in this great journey of helping people learn about identity theft, the environment and more.”