While organisational waste is, by and large, unavoidable, the amount that is generated by most organisations tends to be unnecessarily profligate.

Cut paper, cut waste

While organisational waste is, by and large, unavoidable, the amount that is generated by most organisations tends to be unnecessarily profligate. This needn't be the case, as it can be reduced - dramatically so in fact.

There are plenty of incentives for being more resourceful across the board, be it to do with energy, transport or supply chains. Whether it is improving the image of your brand, contributing to the wellbeing of the planet or boosting your bottom line, any effort to be operationally efficient is going to have positive outcomes.

In this blog we take a look at one of the most wasteful aspects - paper. Focusing on reducing the use of this alone can be - and this is meant to be grandiloquent - rather epic. Why so? Well, paper’s presence in the workplace is so part of the furniture, we don’t even notice it. Yet, all the while, the costs associated with it spiral upwards.

A recent paper from WRAP notes, for example, that the average office employee uses around 45 sheets of paper a day. Almost half of that figure is, in effect, already waste (through lack of use for example). Simply put, there is no need for so much paper to be squandered.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, organisations can reduce their use of paper and its associated costs by as much as 20 per cent, if not more. It has stated that “potential savings are up to ten times the purchasing costs of paper, through reducing the cost of storage, toner, printing, labour, postage and disposal”.

How to do this though? Well, first things first, it requires being aware. The issue presently is that paper usage is often overlooked. There isn’t any real strategy to how it is sources, used and disposed of. It just exists. Recognising otherwise therefore is the first important breakthrough to be made.

The next step is to audit all aspects of the very literal “paper trail of paper”, a wry but apt description of its wastefulness. Consider where you buy your paper from, what kind of material it is made from, if it has been recycled and which departments seem to have a voracious appetite for it.

Beyond this, engage all your employees in a consultation of sorts, canvassing their opinions on paper usage, as well as their thoughts on a post-paper way of working. After all, with regards to the latter in particular, you will need a buy-in of all stakeholders. This is because while reducing paper might make sense on the whole, culturally it can be a difficult concept to accept. It’s a radical departure from tradition after all.

Once you've done this, you’re now in a position to drawn up a plan of action. A lot will depend on the particulars of your enterprise, but, there are lots of little things that apply to most businesses.

For example, the “think before you print” rule, using both pages when printing and moving workflows to the cloud are some of changes that can be put into effect by any given organisation. It tends to become more bespoke the more sophisticated and complex the technology gets, and here there are plenty more opportunities to be had specific to your enterprise.

In today’s world, organisations can no longer be so indifferent to how much waste they generate: it’s not good for the environment and it’s not good for business. Just because the last century was characterised by a blase attitude, doesn’t mean the 21st century has to follow suit. Cut your waste and be a modern, considerate and efficient business and not only will the world be better off, so too will your business. There’s some nice harmony about that.

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