SWA considers document-shredding options

At Tuesday's meeting of the Elk County Solid Waste Authority, discussion on how to provide a document-shredding event for the public continued. Area residents have increasingly requested the ability to shred documents that they feel are too sensitive for more simple recycling. The authority had previously discussed how to go about securing a company to come in and provide this service; most are not in the area and would charge for the cost of shredding plus travel time. Although the public does not pay for such events, they do cost money, and Elk County Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator Bekki Titchner said generally companies, service groups or others pay for the service. Marc J. and Susan Gelfand, owners of Archives Management Warehouse (AMW) in Brockport, made a presentation to the authority on the possibility of coordinating with their business to bring document-shredding services to Elk County residents. "Our facility is in Brockport and we're right inside the Elk County line there. We don't have a mobile truck that travels. We do all our shredding onsite," Marc Gelfand said. "So, we had maybe talked about having a 'shred day,' having everyone from the county [come to us], but it sounds like people are reluctant to travel that far, so the other option I thought you were discussing is having something either in Ridgway or St. Marys." Gelfand said he has been considering creating a mobile shredding unit through the purchase of a trailer and a generator to provide that type of service. He said the business already has a truck that is capable of hauling the shredding machine; he would just need to get a generator of the proper capacity to run the machine. "We would be interested in doing that if we knew you were going to have these things on an ongoing basis that would make it worthwhile for us to invest in that additional equipment, and then we could provide that type of service at whatever location you wanted," he said. Gelfand said AMW would also offer a better price than a Pittsburgh company that the authority had previously spoken to when researching the matter. He said according to reports, that company offered a three-hour event for $200 per hour, as well as $200 per hour for three hour's worth of travel time. Gelfand said he would offer the same price of $200 per hour but without charging for travel time. "Right off the get-go, it would be $600 cheaper," Gelfand said.He said if the authority was willing to spend the originally estimated $1,200 on the event, he could extend it from three hours to six hours for the benefit of county residents. Titchner said she talked to the gentleman who originally approached her about a shred day because he wanted various service groups to help with the cost. She said the event would be "a community service" and the authority would not get anything from it other than offering county residents the ability to destroy confidential documents. She said she would be calling the man following the meeting to see if he thought they would be able to get some area service groups to donate to help offset the cost of a shredding event."It would be really nice if we could share the cost of this because of what we are doing. It's nice to keep things local if we could possibly swing that," Titchner said. She said the authority has not moved beyond getting information to see if they can offer a shred day, but thought if they did they may have to limit it to one event annually. She noted that many calls have been received by area residents saying they saw an event was taking place in a neighboring county and have requested one be held in Elk County, and they usually add that it is "free." "It is free to residents, but someone pays that bill because the companies won't come from Pittsburgh to DuBois or wherever to do an event without compensation," Titchner said. "Usually a company foots the bill and it is free to residents-- so many boxes [per person or household]." Gelfand said companies usually limit each resident to a certain number of boxes. He said he could tailor the number of boxes or pounds of papers to suit the authority, and noted a small banker's box of documents weights between 30 and 35 pounds when full. Elk County Solid Waste Authority Chairman Russ Braun asked about the timeline it would take to put together the mobile shredder. Gelfand said he could get things together as quickly as 60 days. Gelfand also had with him a collection device called a security console that is about the size of a three-drawer filing cabinet, which he explained could be another option for area residents or in addition to a shredding event. The consoles allow people to drop off their confidential documents by placing them inside through a slot. The console is opened with a key; inside is a canvas bag that can hold 120 to 125 pounds of paper when full. Gelfand said he could bring a few consoles to the Elk County Community Recycling Center and they could see what the response was from area residents; AMW could then pick up documents from the consoles twice a week. He said consoles could produce income because the recycling center could charge a nominal fee for people dropping off their documents. Gelfand would charge the authority the wholesale price to shred the documents. The regular price to shred from 1- to 100-pound increments is 20 cents per pound. He said he would offer the authority 14 cents a pound; the price could decrease even more if more than 2,500 pounds is collected per month. That would yield a 30 percent profit margin, he noted. Additionally, there is usually a monthly charge for businesses that make use of the consoles, but Gelfand said he would waive that fee as well. "This could be an income-producing service you could offer," Gelfand said.