Tip Sheet 15 - Quick Wins to Control the Paper Mountain

files in storage

University units often keep more paper records than are needed for their immediate and ongoing business needs. Stacks of paper continue to grow until they become paper mountains, presenting barriers to the smooth operation of our offices. One way to scale back those paper mountains is to identify records that can be disposed of quickly, and to get rid of them.

Get rid of records where your office is not the Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR).

If you are unsure whether your office is responsible for records or simply holds “other copies,” consult the University’s Common Records Schedule (CRS) or check with the Information and Privacy Office.


  • Records of meetings and committees: Get rid of committee meeting agendas, minutes and reports once you’re finished referring to them if your office is not the Office of Primary Responsibility. Examples include: Board of Governors meetings and committees (ADG07, ADG09), Senate meetings and committees (ADG10, ADG12), Faculty Council meetings and committees (ADG15, ADG17).
  • Accounts Payable and Receivable (FIN10 & FIN11): Where an official copy is held by Finance, these records can be destroyed after two years. Records may include purchase orders, invoices, receipts, and credit card payment forms.
  • Tenure and Promotion Files (ADG12-36): The University Secretariat is the OPR for these records; Faculties and Departments can confidentially destroy copies once a decision has been made.
  • Petition materials (STU37): If your unit is not responsible for administering petitions, destroy duplicate petition materials one year after the petition has been decided.

Implement disposition regularly, especially for records with a short retention period.


  • Office Operations (ADG74): General administrative matters can be disposed of one year after the last action.
  • Postal and Shipping Services (CAM50): Units responsible for these services can destroy records one year after the action is complete.
  • Student Evaluations (TCH26): Student response forms can be destroyed one year after the forms are filled out and the aggregate data has been analyzed.
  • Final Exams and Final Assignments (TCH24): Final exams or assignments can be destroyed one year after the exam was written or the assignment submitted.

Destroy transitory records.


  • Drafts of completed reports or publications
  • Duplicates
  • Working papers
  • Reference materials that are no longer useful or are easily obtained from other sources
  • Stocks of in-house publications which are obsolete, superseded or otherwise no longer useful
  • Reports received by your unit on an informational basis that have been superseded
    • e.g., University Academic Plan, Integrated Resource Plan
  • Short-lived and/or inconsequential correspondence, e.g., meetings that have taken place already, the “let’s meet for lunch” types of replies, etc.
  • Unsolicited resumes received where no job has been advertised

Produce fewer paper records.

  • Save email to a properly classified folder on shared drives by converting email messages and folders to pdf instead of printing.
  • If printing email messages is necessary, print out the last thread in a string of correspondence rather than each of the back-and-forth messages.
  • Print documents double sided.
  • Circulate meeting minutes and agenda packages electronically and ask recipients not to print them.
  • Enable secure printing on your printers and photocopiers where a code must be entered before a print job is released.

Remember: No records should be disposed of if they are subject to a legal hold or a FIPPA request.

This document has been developed to assist in establishing good practices and procedures. Additional information on recordkeeping and FIPPA can be found on the Information and Privacy Office’s website. For questions about recordkeeping and FIPPA, please contact the Information and Privacy Office at info.privacy@yorku.ca or at (416) 736-2100 x20359.