World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5th with the objective to create worldwide awareness about save the environment and encourage action to protect and save it. This is the time to think about the benefits of going paperless. Reducing paper use is an important way to help save the environment. Paper waste accounts for up to 40% of total waste in the United States, and if not addressed will have a huge environmental impact that will continue to leave its mark year after year.
The first drive towards eliminating paper from corporate set up happened in 1970s when American writer and futurist Alvin Toffler declared that “Making paper copies of anything is a primitive use of machines and violates their spirit”. Ever since, businesses have been working to create a paperless office where data is securely stored and backed up in electronic document management systems.
The promise of the paperless office has not yet been realized despite the various technologies and strategies currently available. The results of the Infiniti Annual Survey conducted last year claims that only 14 per cent of organizations are paperless. Of the remaining, 26 per cent are transitioning to a paperless office and 60 per cent are not interested in reducing the number of paper-based documents!
A paper-based system can affect the corporate bottom line in many ways:
- Paper documents are often shuffled and misfiled, leading to delays in processing. Increased business wait times and mailing time will add to delays and adversely affect a firm’s productivity and profit.
- It is difficult to create a back-up copy for a paper document as it would require another document of the same size and volume to be created.
- When data is stored on paper, it becomes difficult for employees to access information simultaneously. Digital copies can be accessed simultaneously and can be transmitted through a variety of communication methods.
- In sales, it is often find it difficult to decipher handwritten orders and notes. A paperless strategy for order taking and customer management can significantly reduce errors and increase productivity.
Support World Environment Day by taking steps to reduce the use of paper. Here are some strategies that can help:
- Scan and convert paper-based documents into digital format.
- Build a system to manage documents either in-house or by assigning the task to a third party service provider that specializes in document conversion. Well organized electronic documents can be easily sorted, stored, and distributed across systems and networks.
- Identify areas of resistance or barriers to a paperless office and prepare direct responses to each area of concern.
- Avoid unnecessary printing and encourage sharing and electronic transfer of business documents.
Out of the trees harvested for industrial use, around 42% are used for making paper. Decreased use of paper helps reduce environmental degradation and resolve the multiple ecological crises that we are facing.
On World Environment Day, we endorse the message of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – do something positive for the environment and galvanize individual action into a collective power that will generate an exponential positive impact on the planet.