Thursday, February 21, 2008

Use Paper Wisely

Every year, Business uses 2 trillion (2,000,000,000,000) sheets of paper.

Inefficiency – The results of the information age is to fuel an unrelenting demand for paper. Paper usage tripled in the last 30 years and is expected to continue to grow 10% annually.

Pulp and paper production is the second largest user of energy and water of U.S. manufacturing and third largest contributor to pollution. Of the 10 Million tons of paper used annually by business.
  • 80 Billion kilowatts or equivalent of 8 Million homes
  • 25 Million tons of green house gas or equivalent of the annual exhaust from 4.4 Million cars
  • 130 Billion gallons of water or equivalent annual water needs of 1.7 Million Americans

Opportunity - Recycling is now at 50%, which is good. Most paper is made from wood waste products, from sustainable sources and recycled materials. Decreasing paper use will realize the biggest impact by saving on the costs of manufacturing paper. For example, if printing were reduced by just 10% annually then save:

  • 10 Million kilowatts
  • 2.5 Million tons of green house gas
  • 13 Billion gallons of water


  1. Measure baseline paper consumption and publish periodic results of paper conservation.
  2. Set-up printers to default to double sided.
  3. Print multiple pages per sheet.
  4. Educate employees on paper efficiency. Reinforce message, for example – Place “think green” reminders in email and at copiers and printers.
  5. For large documents that are still published widely, switch to electronic. Publish postcards to guide users to new electronic site. To improve the user experience with electronic edition compared to paper, provide robust search, ability to print by page and download capabilities.
  6. Encourage paperless meetings by bringing laptops or projecting materials.
  7. Acquire products to eliminate blank pages and banners when printing.
  8. Switch to internet fax service. 142 Billion sheets of paper are used in faxing annually.
  9. Request electronic materials from suppliers.
  10. When you must use paper, select recycled paper. Using recycled paper saves 40% of the energy for manufacturing compared to paper made from virgin sources. Recycled paper is on par with virgin paper including quality and price. Other attributes to consider are that paper is chlorine-free and is recyclable.
  11. When printing projects, use soy-based inks that are easier to remove when recylcing than petroleum based inks, are a renewable resource that does much less harm to the environment. Soy ink is mainstream with 95% of newspapers and 25% of commercial printers utilizing soy ink. Encourage printer and copier technology suppliers to leverage soy toner.
  12. Request that vendors use recycled paper as well.
  13. Consider paper from alternative sources such as cotton, agricultural by-products and other natural sources.
  14. Make it easy for employees to recycle paper. Paper can be recycled up to 12 times and high grade office paper can be made it to almost any other paper product.


1 comment:

  1. Great post. Over the years I’ve ordered dozens of catalogs that were printed with less than expected quality, some being downright scrappy. A couple months ago my company in Hobe Sound FL, printed some catalogs with PCA Delta and they were great. I’ve been printing with them ever since. They show care for the environment by using soy based inks, plus recycled papers are available upon request. If you need catalogs or other items printed go to I strongly recommend them.