According to the Confederation of Paper Industries, the UK has made incredible strides in the use of recycled fibres to make paper. In 2013, recovered paper constituted 70 percent of the raw materials for new paper and board, an impressive figure. The UK’s lack of large forests gave an urgency to this transition, but businesses of all sizes remain major sources of paper use and waste. But there are ways businesses can further evolve, from adopting online expenses software to making policy manuals available online.
- Change the paper you use. Many offices now use recycled paper for printers and copiers, but did you know that the weight of the paper you use can really add up in savings as well? Try using paper in a weight of 50 grams per square meter, instead of 60gsm, and save on both postage and overall resource use.
- Encourage document sharing online. This one seems easy, yet a lot of organizations don’t do it. Before you fall to the temptation to print something out to read and make changes, consider whether that document could go into Google Docs or similar tool.
- Change human resources, improve resource use. HR departments have many legally sensitive responsibilities, which often come with a lot of paper use. Take the personnel and specialized policy manuals employees are required to read. Whether they actually read the manuals is another question, but employees are usually required to sign an acknowledgment of receipt. With the advent of digital signature technology, this step no longer needs to be on paper. Paper copies of manuals can be kept to a minimum in an HR library and updated versions posted to a company intranet or secure cloud service. Going electronic with these also makes it easier to update them and notify employees when changes have been made.
- Account for accounting. Internal audits of the offices that handle finance, billing, and payments often reveal many ways that a company can reduce its paper consumption. Expenses software is a perfect example. Electronic policies and forms have the potential to save businesses hundreds of pounds and kilos of paper each year.
- Have adequate bins for paper collection and sorting. People often toss paper in the wrong place or unnecessarily because they aren’t sure where it should go. Make it easy for employees to recycle and provide information for cleaning staff about how to handle recycling.
- Make it fun. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Allow employees to create teams to audit paper usage and come up with creative ways to make change.