Millions of trees are cut down every year to make paper, which ultimately ends up in the trash. Paper products make up more than half of the composition of landfills, resulting in the pollution of air, water, and soil. Bleaching agents based on chlorine are deployed during the production process, so considerable amounts of toxic substances are discharged from paper. When paper products start to decay, they emit methane gas, which is more dangerous as compared to CO2. Many landfills are closing because there’s no more room, potentially creating an environmental disaster.
Offices are the world’s largest paper consumers. The average workplace consumes roughly 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year, of which 6,800 sheets are wasted. Apart from the consequences that paper has on the environment, it adversely affects company finances. Paper products aren’t expensive per se, but printing, copying, and archiving come at a cost. The use of technology is one of the best ways to reduce operating costs and eliminate paper from your business. Here are some ways in which technology enables workplace paper waste reduction.
1. Electronic signature with protective policies
Documents require a signature at the end to confirm that it has been read and the person agrees to be bound to its contents. Examples of documents that are frequently signed include contracts (labor and supplier contracts), NDAs, and business reports. A couple of years ago, it would have been necessary to have these documents printed and signed off. This isn’t the case anymore since it’s possible to sign online. Electronic signatures are perfectly legal and binding, whether we’re talking about European countries, the United States, or other nations around the world.
If you’re serious about reducing paper waste and saving the planet, adopt eSignature. Documents can be signed directly from the phone or tablet from anywhere. Apply a solid password and encourage your employees to do the same. An electronic signature has several layers of security, so don’t worry that it will be forged or tampered with. Eliminate the need to print, mail, and store paper documents. When you have a paperless workflow, you can increase collaboration, as approvals and signatures can be collected in a matter of minutes. Electronic signatures are simple and intuitive, so anyone can use them.
2. Reusing and recycling office paper
Protecting forests and curbing climate change are just some of the reasons why it’s important to reuse paper. It’s paramount to take paper materials out of the waste stream and produce fewer hazardous waste. If your office uses a lot of paper-based products, you might want to consider implementing the following changes:
- Reuse paper for notes and memos — During interviews or meetings with your team, it’s a good idea to take notes because it helps you remember details. You can write on the back of scrap computer paper. Don’t buy a notepad. Equally, when writing memos, you can reuse old faxes.
- Communicate more through email — Most of today’s business communication is done in writing. Paper communication, while providing readers something tangible, leads to waste. Communicate more through email. The messages are delivered extremely fast, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Provide a recycling container for paper — Separating waste is better for the environment because it’s processed the right way. If you have an office recycling program, incorporate bins that keep the waste streams together. While you’re at it, you can generate extra revenue by selling the paper waste to recycling companies.
There’s a huge opportunity for your office to make an impact on the amount of waste diverted from the landfill. Technology has evolved to such a point that it’s possible to compress recyclable materials into dense and consistently shaped bales, which reduce trip and fire hazards, thanks to ingenious machines like waste balers. In seeking out an appropriate waste baler, don’t focus on the potential monetary gain from marketing the baled paper. Have a thorough consultation with a consultant, who can determine what waste management solution can satisfy your needs.
3. Duplex printing saves on paper
A great deal of paper is wasted by printing single line emails or unnecessary copies of documents. Think before you print. You can print on the front and back of the same piece of paper, therefore, reducing paper consumption. Use Microsoft’s option for manual duplex printing and use recycled paper. From the Advanced settings, choose Manual Duplex printing mode. The office printer will print all the pages on one side, so you’ll have to remove the stack of papers and put them back in the output tray, to print on the second side.
Printer technology is more advanced than ever, so it’s not necessary to feed the paper through the printer again. The innovation that is duplex printing allows you to implement a paper cut and have a positive impact on the environment by printing on both sides. Additional steps you can take to reduce the amount of paper required is to reduce the font size and review distributions lists on a regular basis. Measure how many copies you’re personally responsible for each month. You’ll be surprised to find out how much waste you produce.
4. Switching to paperless billing
Paperless billing is helpful for the environment by reducing the amount of paper that you use in the office. You can receive bills via email or an online account. What is more, you can pay bills over the Internet and set up automatic payments that save time. Don’t worry if you don’t have an online account yet. All you have to do is to provide your email address, name, and telephone number. Once the billing system is up and running, you can take full advantage of it. You can easily manage your payments to various suppliers and pay off your landlord.
There are several advantages to paperless billing, including but not limited to avoiding processing delays, receiving money around the clock, and integrating the payments with your accounting software. There’s no better time than now to transition your billing from paper to electronic. Make sure you have a record of customer email addresses and make them aware that changes are on the horizon. Last but not least, execute your plan before you run into challenges with the manual system.