April 06, 2017

Make Earth Month Count: Use These Strategies to Reduce Paper Waste

April is Earth Month around the world... and a great time to reduce paper consumption in the office.    

Despite all the paperless office predictions, the Paperless Project coalition reports that 85% of business documents are in paper form and up to 80% of an organization’s processes are still being managed on paper.

It’s also been estimated that every employee uses about 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year.

Want to reduce your ecological footprint, but not sure how to reduce paper waste in the workplace? Here are 5 effective strategies to reduce paper waste and securely recycle paper that is used. 

Efficiency: According to one online blog, a U.S. bank cut its paper consumption by 25% in two years by being more efficient with paper. Efficiency can be as simple as printing on both sides of paper when possible. You can also use thinner margins to allow for more text on each page – and fewer overall printed pages. Rather than having a printer at every desk, set up a centrally-located printer so printing is less convenient and has to be a conscious decision. Use the “print selected page” function to print specific pages rather than entire documents. You can also cut down on re-printing by requiring passcodes to release prints, so old printed pages don't end up sitting in printer trays. 

Switch to digital: While your office may not be totally paperless, digitizing some documents can help reduce waste. Don’t make hard copies of every document and email. Use electronic data storage instead of printing documents and filing them. Ask suppliers, service providers, financial institutions, and other third parties to send information digitally. Save invoices and other data to a file, and pay online. Instead of faxing documents, send PDFs by email. Use digital signature software and eliminate the need to print documents to sign. Switch to online versions of magazine, newspaper and other subscriptions. Move all employee communications to digital formats.

Provide officer reminders: Keep paper reduction top of mind by posting ‘think before you print’ reminders near the copy machine (according to the Paperless Project, the average document is printed 5 times) and throughout the workplace. Fun paperless events are motivating; for example, have an in-house competition with a ‘Best Paper Saving Champion’.

Conduct paperless meetings: Encourage everyone to bring tablets or laptops to meetings and use them for note-taking. Share reports and other information in electronic format, and display presentations on a screen rather than printing copies and distributing.

Recycle the paper you use: Purchase recycled paper for office use, and securely recycle paper when it is no longer needed. Recycling paper helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions, saving trees, and cutting down on water use. Partner with a trusted document destruction company that has a comprehensive chain-of-custody and places locked consoles for documents around the workplace. Implement a Shred-it All Policy too, so that all paper documents go into the locked consoles for regularly scheduled secure shredding. Be sure the supplier bundles up all the shredded confetti-like pieces and sends the paper to a recycling organization. According to document destruction leader, Shred-it, for every two consoles shredded and recycled, one tree is saved. Customers receive a certificate detailing the number of trees they have saved every year.

Learn how the Shred-it recycling process combines security and recycling in the workplace.