On average, workers spend around 30% of their time each week managing and finding paper documents. This is not only wasted time but also wasted money. Transitioning towards a paperless system will not only increase office productivity but also improve customer service and significantly reduce costs spent on paper and printing.
The impact of paper waste is enormous; the costs of paper and expenses from supplies such as printers and toner are too significant to ignore, and the environmental impacts are catastrophic. 42% of the trees harvested globally are made into paper, with this industry also being the largest user of water and the third largest emitter of global pollution. See here. Luckily, changes can be made, and a paperless system is achievable for your business using the following steps.
- 1. Evaluate your wastepaper stream. Complete an audit so you know exactly where you currently are, and what changes you need to make. Identify the wastepaper your organisation generates and note how this could potentially change. Produce a list of changes the business can make and how you are going to begin those changes. For example, changes could include using email as a main communication stream rather than letters, and moving into cloud-based systems with online rotas and calendars rather than paper plans/copies. Using such systems storing documents online is a safe option and does not require physical paper documents to be stored.
- 2. Using our checklist and other guides (see here) you can begin to develop more detailed plans. Perhaps do this by assigning a coordinator or setting up a Green Committee within the business, although make sure to keep non-team members involved as well.
- 3. Review and revise plans and progress to keep working towards a paperless system.
In some cases, being completely paper free may not be achievable – in this case focussing on waste prevention, waste reduction and reusing is key. A simple change is to reduce font size and remove any unnecessary wording to compact documents into fewer pages. Using lighter weighted paper means less paper is being used, and using paper and inks that are readily recycled, using recycled paper and reusing pages that are only printed single sided are all easy changes that can be made.