Smarter Business: Greening Advisor

 

Reducing paper use

Rethinking the way your company buys and uses paper helps the business as well as the environment. Using less paper is a proven method of trimming your bottom line, while a recycling and eco-friendly paper procurement program is ecologically meaningful and can generate positive publicity.

Follow the tips below to reduce your company’s office paper use, and visit NRDC’s Paper Guide for Businesses for more detailed information and tools to help you reach your goals.

Also consider joining the EPA’s free WasteWise program, which provides members with several benefits, including a technical assistance team that can help your company conduct a waste audit and reduce waste. For a useful discussion of waste reduction, see EPA’s Business Guide for Reducing Solid Waste.

Calculate environmental benefits of paper use reduction.

Reducing paper use saves money

A typical office disposes of about 350 pounds of wastepaper per employee per year. Identifying ways to reduce paper use can save money.

In 2005, the EPA Region 10 offices (in the Northwest United States) made a concerted effort to reduce paper use. Through a variety of initiatives including default double-sided printing and collection of scrap paper for reuse, the office cut paper consumption by 30 percent, yielding an annual savings of $49,000. Case Study

In 1994, BankAmerica (now Bank of America) partnered with EPA’s WasteWise program and began implementing measures to reduce paper use. By encouraging double-sided printing in offices, centralizing distribution of company procedure manuals, and switching to double-sided printing on customer banking statements, the bank was able to save more than $1million annually. Case Study

Smart Paper Practices Tool kit

Sample Memo Re: Developing a Smart Paper Plan
Get senior management on board with your company’s plan to rethink paper use in the office.

Office Paper Use Questionnaire
Use this questionnaire to assess current practices in your office and find out where there's room to improve.

Paper Reduction Worksheet
Start off with simple paper reduction strategies like these. Edit the spreadsheet and add your own strategies to create a customized plan for your office.

Sample Signs
NRDC's New York eco-committee created these signs to help our New York office follow paper reduction and recycling guidelines.

Sample Paper Procurement Policy
NRDC worked with a major printing company to develop these guidelines, which it now uses in making procurement decisions.

Paper Supply Verification Form
Use this form to find out whether your supplier is providing your company with environmentally friendly paper.

Paper Use Reduction Tips

Communications

  • Use email instead of paper or faxes whenever practical, both for internal memos and for communications with clients and customers.
  • Don’t print email messages. Put the words “Don’t print this email unless you really need to” at the bottom of all emails.
  • Print less: Keep mailing lists current. Don’t print more copies than you need.
  • Reuse what you can. Stock your fax machine with paper already printed on one side; reuse envelopes and boxes if possible; re-use one-sided "draft" paper in your printers.

Printers and Copiers

  • When printers and copiers need to be replaced, reduce the number of printers you buy to save money, energy and office space. Purchase units that can print on both sides of a sheet of paper. Then set all computers and copiers to default to double-sided printing.
  • Save and collect 8.5 by 11 inch paper that's been printed on one side and designate a paper drawer on each printer (or as many printers as practical) for this paper to print drafts.
  • Adjust the house style on word processing programs to use a slightly smaller font and slightly wider margins.
  • Work on drafts electronically, using "edit" and "comment" word-processing features, instead of working on paper.

Incoming Mail

  • Cut down on the number of periodical subscriptions you buy. Survey to see who subscribes to what, then trim duplicates and work out a sharing system. One way to share information is to circulate the table of contents for each periodical.
  • Reduce the amount of unwanted mail your company receives. Catalog Choice is an NRDC-affiliated free online service that will help you opt out of receiving unwanted catalogs. The National Waste Prevention Coalition provides a postcard to send to mailers to have your name removed from lists. (See more resources and suggestions for curbing business junk mail.)

Office Kitchen

  • Stock the kitchen with reusable mugs, plates, bowls, and utensils to discourage the use of disposable paper and plastic. Consider cloth napkins, or use paper towels with high postconsumer recycled content.
  • Encourage employees who carry in lunches to use reusable bags and napkins.
  • Encourage the use of tap water instead of bottled water.

Additional Resources

Greening Advisor

The Business Plan

The Opportunities

Quick Tip

Reuse what you can. Stock your fax machine with paper already printed on one side; reuse envelopes and boxes if possible; re-use one-sided "draft" paper in your printers.

Suggestions?
Let us know.

A typical office disposes of about 350 pounds of wastepaper per employee per year. Identifying ways to reduce paper use can save money.
 

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