As we continue to learn about the state of our planet’s health, the start of the new year is the perfect time to reflect on your environmental awareness and to set impact objectives for the year to come. Look ahead for 2023 by investing in new technologies that allow you to both reduce your carbon footprint and simultaneously support the growth of your business.
Continue reading for more information on:
- The state of paper usage in the past year
- Business benefits of reducing paper waste
- Where to start when going paperless
The State of Paper Usage in 2022
Despite tremendous digital advancements that have made life more connected and convenient than ever, our global dependence on paper continues to increase.
In 2022 alone, it's estimated that more than 415 million tons of paper were produced: That’s an increase of nearly 2% and, if continued at this rate, is projected to rise another 15% before the year 2032.
This trend has far-reaching implications that affect our planet, including:
- Deforestation, which contributes to soil erosion, destroys natural habitats & native ecosystems, and eliminates the world’s natural carbon sinks that protect the atmosphere from harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
- Tremendous energy usage, with paper production coming in third place for energy consumption among manufacturing industries
- Air pollution, contributing to 21% of toxic release inventory (TRI) emissions as recently as 2020
- Waste problems, as paper contributes to around 26% of total waste at landfills where it produces harmful methane gas as it biodegrades.
Many businesses and communities offer recycling programs to offset some of these consequences. While this is a critical step in reducing the need for virgin resources, it’s important to note that it doesn’t eliminate the need completely.
Since individual paper fibers can only be recycled between five and ten times on average, we remain at least partially dependent on new trees for paper products.
The only true solution is to eliminate the need for paper from the get-go.
Thankfully, there are many ways to eliminate your reliance on paper consumption, including software solutions that digitize your manual processes.
Building a Business Case for Paperless Processes
Reducing your rate of paper usage greatly improves the health of the environment at large, but it can also benefit the efficiency and financial well-being of your organization. Here are a few of the ways that paperless processes make this possible.
Reduce Unnecessary Expenses
We're in a period of economic uncertainty right now, and everyone is feeling the effects of tightening budgets. Now more than ever, it’s becoming a need more than a want for companies to identify opportunities for cost savings.
Going paperless is a great place to start.
Eliminating your reliance on paper documents eliminates the need for many other machines and materials like copiers, toner, ink, envelopes, and more.
Take the cost of stamps: At the time this article is being written, the cost of a single stamp is $0.60. While this cost on its own may seem inconsequential, it quickly adds up. If your business needs to mail out 1,000 invoices per month, for example, you’re spending upwards of $600 every month on stamps alone.
Right now, it’s more important than ever that businesses look at both the big picture–the environmental impact of paper waste–and the immediate effect that needless spending has on your bottom line.
Improve Recruitment Efforts and Employee Satisfaction
Green initiatives are becoming a key factor in attracting and retaining employees in the workforce.
When surveyed, it’s been found that 58% of the U.S. workforce considers a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. The same study found that 70% would be more loyal to a company that supports them in their contributions to social and environmental change.
These statistics are even higher among the younger generations, including Millennials who are projected to make up 75% of the global population by 2030. Investing in green culture at your company supports your business’ competitive advantage by helping you attract and retain top talent.
Adopting paperless processes is a crucial step in this effort. By eliminating paper from your business’ day-to-day efforts, you demonstrate your company’s daily commitment to reducing paper waste.
Increase Workplace Efficiency
Green initiatives can also help you build a more productive team.
Paper-based processes have become outdated because they are both wasteful and inefficient. When your business relies on physical copies of things like contracts and accounting ledgers, it causes your teams to spend hours printing, filing, sorting, and searching for the documents they need.
What’s more, those documents are at risk of loss or damage when housed physically.
Such was the case for Lucky’s Trailer Company, who lost all of their documents when Hurricane Irene brought the worst flooding in 83 years to the state of Vermont.
With electronic document management systems, you eliminate these inconveniences and stressors, all while reducing your dependence on wasteful printouts and photocopies.
Where to Start When Going Paperless
Paperless initiatives can make a big impact on both your business efficiency and your environmental footprint, and the start of the new year is a great time to ramp up your efforts to go green.
Starting with data capture software to digitize files is a great first step. You can recycle existing records, free up office space, and give your teams an easy way to search and sort through documents’ extracted text.
With DocuPhase’s optical character recognition (OCR) technology, you can convert your existing paper records to searchable PDFs. The data is extracted and indexed into your electronic file management system, allowing your teams to file and find the records they need with ease.
Digital Forms and e-Signatures
Next, you can configure web forms and e-signatures, so that you don’t need to print things like purchase orders or employee onboarding documents. Setting up your own forms is easy with DocuPhase's pre-built templates and drag and drop designer.
Along with digital forms, you can also configure automated workflows. DocuPhase's visual workflow builder allows your teams to easily set up digital file routing to any parties and departments necessary based on value authority, task completion, escalations, and more.
Lastly, you can set up automation in your accounting department with automated vendor payments and electronic billing.
Processing payments online rather than mailing checks and invoices to your vendors and customers reduces your dependence on paper products, lessens CO2 emissions that occur when sending mail via postal service, and gives you more control over your cash flow with immediate GL updates as payments are made and received.
Doing Our Part
DocuPhase has been helping companies go paperless for more than 20 years with document management solutions, web forms and e-signatures, data capture technology, and business process automation software. But this year, we are taking it a step further by partnering with Evertreen to plant a forest on behalf of our customers.
We've planted 2,023 new trees to kick off the new year, and we look forward to growing our forest and furthering our commitment to innovation and efficiency by helping businesses offset their carbon footprint throughout the year.