Many businesses are making the move to paperless processes by digitising documents and it is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Reducing paper consumption provides an opportunity for us to reduce our impact on the environment, save time and money, and speed up business processes. We can all turn waste into wealth by applying lean principles.
Here, we talk about just some of the reasons why going paperless is the way forward!
The production of paper causes deforestation, uses huge amounts of energy and water, and contributes to air pollution and waste problems, with paper accounting for around 26% of total waste at landfill. Deforestation is one of the main environmental problems we face and 42% of all global wood harvest is used to make paper. And finally, 10 litres of water is needed to make one piece of A4 paper. Sobering facts like these show the reality of the effects of paper production and consumption on our environment. (https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/paper-waste-facts)
Taking the effort to reduce and reuse paper can have significant environmental impacts which we should be aware of. Recycling just 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees, 26,000 litres of water, 2.3 m3 of landfill space, 320 litres of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity – that’s enough energy to power a 3 bedroom European house for an entire year!
The Cost of Paper
The average worker uses approximately 10,000 sheets of paper every year, and of this number 6,800 sheets are wasted! Some of the reasons for such high wastage include printing emails unnecessarily, printing duplicates, and leaving documents behind on the printer. The cost of using paper in the office can run 13 to 31 times the cost of purchasing the paper in the first place! (https://www.restore.co.uk/Digital/Insights/Blogs/paperless-office-paper-waste-statistics-for-the-average-uk-office)
Going digital also saves employees time and speeds up work. Filing documents digitally is easy, there is no need to print and scan to share documents with other employees as typically they will also have access to the same files via a shared drive. It is also easier and quicker to search digitally for a document or a report than it is to scramble around on your desk looking for documents you printed off only yesterday.
Digital storage takes up zero physical space in your office, compared to the space that filing cabinets take up along with storage facilities for all those boxes of paper files. Going digital saves you having to make such an investment and also saves money on ink, toner, and postage. Research suggests these costs add up to an average of around £100 a year per employee. To put this into perspective, a large organisation of 500 employees, based on this research, provides an annual saving of £50,000. (https://www.kyoceradocumentsolutions.co.uk/en/smarter-workspaces/business-challenges/paperless/the-importance-of-being-a-paperless-company.html)
It is Easier than Ever to go Digital
There are now so many web-based services that take paper out of the equation altogether. Services like HelloSign and Docusign allow for the digital signature of documents. Other services such as eFax and FaxZero replace traditional fax machines. Google Docs and Google Sheets allow colleagues to work simultaneously on a document.
File transfer systems like Dropbox and WeTransfer allow large documents, videos, and photos to be shared. Adobe Scan allows the user to take pictures of documents with their smartphones and converts them into a PDF that can be emailed. Google Drive and Sharepoint allow for a centralised point of access to files and documents for numerous employees at any one time.
These services are a few examples of how using digital technologies like these can help companies reach their paperless goals with a little more ease.
Something to Celebrate!
From 1st April, here at CIP, we went paperless with all our back-office processes by applying lean!
We now manage all of our HR documentation via Breathe HR, which is an online-based HR software programme that allows us to digitalise many of our processes, we accept digital signatures and provide training materials digitally where possible.
When it is necessary to use paper for client projects, we work tirelessly to promote the work of The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the use of Carbon Balanced Paper. The FSC® is an organisation dedicated to promoting the responsible management of the world’s forests. Carbon Balanced Paper is paper for which the carbon impact of the production and distribution process has been offset by the World Land Trust – an international conservation charity. We purchase all of our paper through the Carbon Capture Program, which gives money to the Wood Land Trust.
Our mantra is to minimise our use of new paper and maximise our use of the paper we already have.
How Can You Work Towards Going Paperless?
Before using paper, ask yourself a few questions:
- Can the job be done without using paper?
- Can it be digitised?
- If not, do I need that many copies?
- Is it possible to use up both sides of the paper?
- Can I use scrap paper instead?
If you enjoyed this article and are feeling inspired to use less paper – share it to spread the word about why we should bin paper for good!