BUSINESSGUIDETO PAPERREDUCTIONA Step-by-Step Plan toSave Money by Saving PaperIncluding Case Studies of Bank of America, AT&T,Nike, Alameda County, and the Moore FoundationHeather SarantisSeptember 2002
PrefaceI want to thank the following people for their insight and feedback throughout this project: BillChaloupka, Neva Hassanein, and Jeff Bookwalter of the University of Montana; and MichaelMarx, Todd Paglia, and Adam Zielinski of ForestEthics. I would also like to thank BruceNordman of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory for help in the initial planning of this project; LetaWinston of Nike, Brad Allenby of AT&T, Ed Yoon of the Moore Foundation, and Beth Eckl,formerly of Alameda County, for their openness in the interview process; and Steve Lippman ofBusiness for Social Responsibility and Susan Kinsella of Conservatree for their thoughtfulfeedback in the peer review process. I am especially grateful to Bob Kee of Bank of America forhis generosity with his time and feedback. This project was made possible by the funding of theDoris Duke Conservation Fellowship and The Packard Foundation.Copyright 2002 ForestEthics – All Rights ReservedBusiness Guide to Paper Reductioni
Table of ContentsList of Tables . iiiList of Figures . iiiIntroduction.1I. Background Education About Paper Use.2A. Trends in Paper Consumption.2B. Business Efficiency: The Argument for Paper Reduction.3C. Environmental Impact: The Argument for Paper Reduction .4D. Efficient Paper Use: Where the Environment and Business Intersect .5II. Step-by-Step Guide for Reducing Paper Consumption .7A. Start with a vision.7B. Do an initial assessment of inefficient paper use. .7C. Get buy-in from top leadership. .7D. Organize a team of people to support the work. .9E. Audit paper consumption. .9F. Identify and prioritize paper reduction efforts.11G. Start with a pilot project. .12H. Encourage involvement. .12I. Educate paper vendors of relevant changes in policies.14J. Track results over time.14K. Communicate success to participants and the public. .15L. Continuously find ways to reduce number of sheets and/or paper weight, increasepercentage of environmentally preferable paper choices, and eliminate waste. .15III. Case Studies .16A. Bank of America: Long-Term Commitment to Comprehensive Paper Reduction.16B. Nike: Basic Changes Make Good Economic Sense .24C. AT&T: The Benefits of the Intranet and Online Billing .27D. Alameda County Offices, CA: Organizing a Large, Decentralized Agency .31E. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Getting Started.33Conclusion .36Appendix A: Paper Audit Worksheet.37Appendix B: Related Organizations and Resources .40Appendix C: Paper Reduction Strategies .43Appendix D: Bank of America Educational Resources .50Bibliography .57Endnotes .59Business Guide to Paper Reductionii
List of TablesTable 1: Environmental Benefits of the Internet at AT&T .28Table 2: Economic and Environmental Savings from Online Billing at AT&T .29List of FiguresFigure 1: Sample Paper Reduction Policies .8Figure 2: Prioritizing Paper Reduction Activities.12Figure 3: Tips on Environmental Leadership in Companies.26Business Guide to Paper Reductioniii
IntroductionHigh quality vision, efficiency, and creativity are key ingredients to a successful business. Whilemuch emphasis is placed on how these factors affect a business’ product, companies are alsoseeking ways to improve their internal operations. Increasingly, they are finding that reducingpaper consumption can improve efficiency and reduce costs. Additionally, it can earn them areputation for being environmentally conscious.This report is a tool kit for building a paper reduction1 campaign. The first section containseducational background information: statistics and trends in paper use, which has beenincreasing steadily with great access to the internet and printing capabilities; an explanation ofthe different ways that paper dependence costs companies, including purchasing, storage, lostdocuments, postage, waste, and labor inefficiency; and the environmental impact of forestextraction and the production and disposal of paper.The second section is a step-by-step guide to implementing a paper reduction campaign in acompany. While every company will implement paper reduction in a way that is mostappropriate to its culture and organization, in general most or all of the steps outlined in thisguide will be necessary for a comprehensive reduction campaign. These steps include gettingstarted, dedicating adequate support, auditing paper consumption, identifying and prioritizingways to reduce paper consumption, encouraging involvement, tracking improvements, andsustaining efforts over time.The third section presents the case studies, which inspired and informed the step-by-step guide.The guidelines were developed from case studies conducted on Bank of America, Nike, AT&T,Alameda County, and the Moore Foundation. All of these organizations are involved in paperreduction, but are at different stages in the process. These case studies include an overview ofhow each organization is pursuing paper reduction, some of the successes they have had, andchallenges specific to their process.Many companies2 have documented savings of thousands or even millions of dollars throughtheir paper reduction efforts. Some approaches, such as duplex (double-side) copying or printing,may address the everyday ways that people use paper. Other efforts, such as implementing onlinebilling, have the potential to save companies millions of dollars through reduced paper, postage,and processing costs. An initial audit of paper use will often reveal numerous cost-saving waysto dramatically reduced paper without loss of performance.As this report demonstrates, with dedication and planning there is significant potential for asuccessful paper reduction campaign. Additionally, based on the cost-savings potential, there islittle economic justification not to initiate such an effort. And the environmental benefits ofpaper reduction confirm that what is good for business can be good for the environment.Many companies have documented savings of thousands or evenmillions of dollars through their paper reduction efforts.Business Guide to Paper Reduction1
I. Background Education About Paper UseA. Trends in Paper ConsumptionAs many people who work in an office can attest, paper is ubiquitous. While buried under pilesof memos, reports, to-do lists, order forms, and staff manuals, paper’s services seemindispensable, yet the paper itself seems to be a great burden. Quite likely, both impressions aretrue.The ability to document processes, place or fill orders, manage human resources, communicatebetween employees, store information, edit documents, bill customers, and legally protectoneself or the company can be the core of business operations. Historically, providing theseservices required the use of paper. Without this important tool, it would be very difficult toconduct business.Yet for many of these services, there are new tools or methods available that could replace theuse of paper and provide the service more efficiently and/or cost less. As explained in thefollowing sections, there are significant economic and environmental concerns related tosustained paper dependence. To fully understand these concerns, it is important to understand themagnitude of current paper consumption:Paper Consumption Statistics The average American office worker is estimated to use a sheet of paper every 12minutes—a ream per person every two and a half working weeks—and to dispose of100-200 pounds of paper every year.3 The number of pages consumed in U.S. offices is growing by about 20 percent eachyear.4 The introduction of email into an organization resulted on average in a 40 percentincrease in paper consumption.5 A worldwide growth of 600 percent in printeraccessibility between 1988 and 19936 is in part what contributes to this. The U.S. is by far the world’s largest producer and consumer of paper.7 Per capitaU.S. paper consumption is over six times greater than the world average and about 25percent greater than Japan, the world’s second largest per capita paper consumer.8 According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, global paper productsconsumption has tripled over the past three decades and is expected to grow by halfagain before 2010.9This report focuses on ways to improve business efficiency by reducing paper use. Many of thesuggestions for paper reduction entail investing in new technology.10 While some of theinformation above indicates that introducing more technology—such as the internet or printers—into the workplace can result in increased paper use, this is not the only possible outcome. Asdocumented throughout this report, numerous companies have had excellent success in reducingBusiness Guide to Paper Reduction2
paper consumption by focusing on the appropriate use of technology. As part of the same effort,they focus on eliminating wasteful practices and training employees on the benefits of paperreduction. This approach can have significant financial benefits and serve their company betterthan previous paper-dependent processes.B. Business Efficiency: The Argument for Paper ReductionPaper is something that virtually every business uses in large quantities. Currently 90 percent ofall information in businesses is retained on paper.11 Its use is so familiar that it generally goesunquestioned. This tendency, however, can lead companies to stay dependent on wastefulsystems. The financial costs of paper extend far beyond just purchasing the paper. There are alsocosts associated with storage, lost documents, postage, document obsolescence, and laborinefficiency. For example, a study of the Alameda County, CA Social Services Departmentfound that, in distributing a memo to all employees, only 11 percent of the cost was related topurchasing. Thirty-three percent was for copying the memo (this includes expenses for the copymachine and the labor to make the copies), and 56 percent for was the labor of processing anddistributing it.12 Below are some of the other less-obvious ways that paper use can negativelyimpact a company’s bottom line:How Paper Over-Use Hurts the Bottom LineStorage Space: To store 2 million paper documents, an organization can expect to spendbetween 40,000 and 60,000 on filing cabinets alone. Those same files could fit onfewer than ten CD-ROMs.13 Adding the cost of floor space required to house the filingcabinets, and considering that for many companies 45 percent of files stored areduplicates,14 paper storage is both inefficient and expensive. An effective electronicnetwork and storage system could help cut costs dramatically.Lost Documents: Despite the best intentions and even the best filing systems, documentsare lost on a regular basis. In fact, approximately three percent of all paper documents arefiled incorrectly, and almost eight percent of all paper documents are eventually lost.15 Astudy of managers in the U.S. found that they spend an average of three hours per weeklooking for paper that has been misfiled, mislabeled, or lost. Overall, the cost of misfileddocuments is upward of 120 per document.