Reduce paper, help the environment
Go Paperless with Document Management and Automated Workflow: Good ROI for You and the Environment
In the corporate world we often talk about the efficiencies of going to a paperless business process. We spend time analyzing the hard and soft cost savings with each department so that we can build a solid return-on-investment (ROI). The business benefits of document management and document workflow are clear, and they are typically all we need to justify such a system, but what about what about the benefit to the environment?
There is tremendous debate about whether man is contributing to the decline of our atmosphere, but there is little debate that we produce a lot of trash, we waste a lot of natural resources and we bulldoze entire habitats to get the raw materials for everything from paper to furniture to novelties and knick-knacks. There are some great examples of companies trying to clean up their act with regards to the environment and manufacturing, unfortunately there are exponentially more companies that are not.
The smell of a paper mill in the morning…
Paper production not only requires the cutting and harvesting of millions of trees, it also requires paper manufacturing plants use a variety of toxic chemicals, many of which release Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide and Carbon Dioxide back into our atmosphere. Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide are major contributors to acid rain; Carbon Dioxide (classified as a Greenhouse Gas) is thought to affect climate change. Paper production also uses a lot of water, another one of our precious resources, and the waste-water produced by these paper plants contain solids and dissolved organic material that are classified as pollutants.
Unless you’re making a paper airplane, trees aren’t the only things needed when using paper. What about chemicals, like inks and toners? These colorful additions contain volatile organic compounds, non-renewable oils, and potentially some heavy metals. During the paper recycling process, the de-inking process removes these chemicals, reducing the weight of the paper by as much as 20%. This waste slurry is then taken to landfills or processed at yet another chemical plant.
How can we help?
The easiest way to reduce the volume of paper manufactured and printed is to not buy the paper in the first place.
This means that we need to examine the most common business processes and re-engineer the process so that we don’t need to use as much paper. Software platforms are part of the solution. Document management systems provide us a sharing mechanism for an electronic image, and document workflow systems provide us a way to route those electronic images both inside and outside of your organization.
If the paper has already been printed, we can scan or digitize those documents, then recycle the paper. It is generally accepted that recycled paper has less of a direct environmental impact than newly produced paper.
If you are accepting paper invoices or statements from your clients or vendors, consider tools that will allow you to receive those documents electronically, which not only save paper, but saves you the time and energy of scanning or digitizing those documents.
It is almost impossible to go completely paperless, but it isn’t a bad thing to set your goals high. Let Highland Martin work with your organization to radically reduce the paper you use on a daily basis.