There is a clear environmental need for paperless offices. The paper industry is one of the world’s major polluting industries and one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases with over 900 million trees cut done annually. The EPA reports that paper is the number-one material thrown away, comprising 40% of our waste stream. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “The pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world.”
In addition to environmental impacts, paper is time consuming to manage. Record keeping constitutes more than 90% of all office activity. Studies indicate that of the paper filed, over 80% is never referenced again! One Xerox study showed that over 45% of the office paper that is discarded was thrown out on the day it was printed. A great deal of time is being wasted printing, sorting, purging, and filing paper.
Then there is the cost aspect of paper. According to the Association for Information and Image Management, the lifecycle cost of a document is over $20, which includes the cost of paper, printing, mailing, distribution, and handling fees. An older study done by Coopers and Lybrand in 1998 (now Price Waterhouse and Coopers) estimated the cost of paper management to be about $50 per document. In addition, it takes up valuable real estate, it is estimated that it costs on average $314 per filing cabinet solely for the space it consumes in an office.
Essentially becoming a paperless office could reap the benefits of improved efficiency and effectiveness, reduce cost, and improve the brand and image of the company by becoming a better corporate environmental steward.