How switching from a predominantly paper-based business to a digital one can help make the planet more green and save you money.
For many companies around the world, paper is still very much a reality in our day-to-day work – from printing off records to sharing hard copies of documents. But not only is this not helping the environment, it also extends far beyond your budget.
The true costs of paper
While there are benefits to using paper to manage your business, there are also many hidden costs.
The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year
– the equivalent of the average four-drawer filing cabinet, which carries an annual cost to manage and store.
Of this amount of paper, close to 45 per cent will end up in a waste paper bin within 24 hours
. When you add the cost of printing, printer consumables and maintenance, the daily cost to use paper in the office quickly multiplies.
From an environmental perspective, the paper production industry is the world’s fourth largest contributor of greenhouse gas
, and a large user of energy resources
in its sector.
On top of this, as paper waste decomposes in landfill it releases methane – the second greatest greenhouse gas
released next to carbon dioxide, now produced at a rate that outpaces the planet’s ability to remove it.
Even with modern production processes, it still requires 24 trees to produce a metric ton of printer paper
, a process that uses only 75 per cent of each tree, which equates to a huge amount of waste.
Knowing this, when you consider the entire impact of using paper, the details are truly sobering.
Technology to save the environment
The great news is that many solutions are available right now to improve business practices and reduce operating costs and waste.
You can transition to a paperless office by using technology to:
• Employ cloud solutions for data management, which can be accessed from any compatible device. You can go about this by storing client details, sales records, or just about any information in an online database that your employees can access securely with a login from any smartphone, tablet PC, laptop or desktop computer.
• Access online tools, like Slack and Trello, to manage staff and projects. You can start with creating jobs, assigning tasks to team members, tracking progress and even producing reports, all online.
• Produce soft copies of paperwork, such as bills, contracts and sales records. Rather than printing forms or invoices and posting paperwork, many programs allow you to email documents directly to clients – no printing, no postage costs.
• Digitise paper records for storage and retrieval, rather than produce paperwork for every transaction or task. You can ditch the filing cabinet by scanning paper records, which can be stored in an online database for easy retrieval any time, and then use software tools for all following transactions.
• Create an online wiki for company information and processes that staff can access from any compatible device. You can build a simple wiki to contain all information on training and procedures, supplier info and more.
• Convert existing tools, like fax, to a digital service that can send and receive soft copies. An online virtual fax service, for example, will assign you a real-world fax number that can receive conventional faxes, and allow you to send documents directly from your screen to a receiving fax machine at the other end.
With a little thought and the right technology, transitioning to a paperless office can not only help make the planet more green, but also save you time and money, and improve practices across all your departments.