For some time now we’ve been offering compatible film rolls for Panasonic and Brother fax machines. We can offer substantial savings compared to buying originals from the office supply store or the manufacturer online.
There is a personal security issue involved with disposing of the used fax rolls, however, that most of our customers have been surprised to learn about. Just like carbon paper, these fax rolls retain a perfectly readable negative image of every fax received through the machine (faxes sent do not print out a copy and therefore do not leave an image on the film).
Think of the implications; a copy of every fax you’ve received on your fax machine is preserved and available to anyone who later finds that roll in the trash. Sepending on the type of business you conduct through faxing, the used roll of film may contain details of your bank accounts, mortgage, children’s name or schools, far too much information you do not want others to have access to.
I asked some friends who work in the field of physical security for their suggestions on how to destroy these rolls or make them unreadable. Since the technology involved is rather old (carbon paper was invented in the early 1800s and first produced commercially in the late 19th century), there are not many high-tech ways of dealing with it.
A few suggested feeding the roll through a paper shredder, though none of us were sure it wouldn’t wind up jamming the cutting teeth. I suspect the better quality shredders could deal with this, but cheaper models would likely choke on it.
Two of my friends said I should microwave the roll. I’m not positive what that might do to either the film or the microwave, thus I’m reluctant to experiment. If anyone has an old microwave and would like to try cooking a few sheets of carbon paper and reporting the results I’d be grateful. Just be very careful. I’m not responsible for injury or fire. Perhaps I should ask this of the Mythbusters.
Seriously, though, there must be a safe, environmentally friendly way to ensure the destruction of these rolls. Perhaps immersing them in a bucket of some sort of liquid (alcohol? Turpentine?) would make them unreadable.
Since I’m still not sure we’ve arrived at the best possible answer, I’m asking any of our readers to offer their own suggestions. Comment below and perhaps your’s will be the best solution for this. Meanwhile I’ll keep searching for a method I can recommend.