Worldwide, over 95 million metric tonnes of paper are recovered each year to be made into recycled paper and paperboard. According to Environment Canada, of the 6 million tonnes of paper and paperboard used annually, only 25% of them are recycled; paper waste accounts for more than 1/3 of all wastes in the country.
Paper Waste is a severe problem in many industries and offices. Because of printing mistakes, junk mails, billings, and packaging, the paper may comprise up to 70% of a company’s total waste. An average office employee would be using about 10,000 sheets of paper in a year. In addition to paper used for printing, companies also consume other paper products, such as cardboard, envelopes, and wrappers, to name a few.
Investing in a baler and following these tips can help lower costs related to paper waste.
Impact of Paper Waste
With much of the attention focused on plastic disposal, the impact of paper waste is often overlooked. Yet, improper paper waste disposal and recycling can impact the economy and the environment as the other waste products.
When the wrong document is printed or a cartridge leak stains the paper, the typical reaction is to throw these out and print again. If that happens every day, mistakes in printing and equipment maintenance like the printer and fax machine can add up fast. The high costs of the inefficient use of paper are difficult to ignore.
According to research by Gartner, this paper waste can take up between 1% and 3% of the company’s revenue. Furthermore, in a separate report, 17% of all things printed amount to nothing but waste.
From torn paper to used wrappers, it is no wonder that a third of all litter is paper products. Littering can make an area entirely unattractive for tourists and business owners. Furthermore, they attract insects and rodents, turning an area into a perfect breeding ground for various diseases.
40% of all traded industrial wood in the world is reserved for pulp and paper industries, which produce office paper, tissue, and paper-based packaging.
Deforestation is detrimental to the ecosystem as loss of habitat can lead to flora and fauna extinction. While many industries have committed to reforestation projects, these artificial forests are often unsustainable and unable to support biodiversity.
Of the 85 million tonnes of paper dumped each year, they fill about 40% of landfills. Transporting waste costs money, so does managing waste facilities. Likewise, as the volume of waste increases, the land needed to contain them also needs to expand. In addition, paper wastes are often burned, causing air pollution, and some of the chemicals contained in these products may damage the environment.
The Solutions for Paper Wastage
Because paper products are biodegradable, people are complacent when handling paper waste. Nevertheless, the biodegradable nature of paper is not the determining factor of sustainability — the efficiency of waste management and the volume of waste produced are.
Incorporating sustainable waste management in your business has tremendous benefits — but how exactly do you reduce paper wastage?
Here are some solutions:
Think Before You Print
How often does your facility produce printed materials? How much of it is necessary? How much is redundant?
Printing meeting agendas and presentations, for example, is the norm in most companies, but how often do people refer to these handouts? These printouts are typically discarded soon as the meeting is done.
- Take advantage of technology. Use digital media to communicate the schedule or add visuals to a presentation whenever possible.
- Only print the pages needed. Avoid printing out the whole document if you only need 2 or 3 pages.
- Format the document correctly. If you are printing web content, copy-paste the text into a word processor and remove unnecessary texts and images.
- If possible, try to fit at least two or more pages or slides on a single page by reducing your handouts’ font and margin size.
- Check your document before printing. You may end up wasting another print just because you overlooked an important detail.
- Use both sides of the paper for printing whenever possible.
Modern technology has allowed the world to minimize the use of paper. Several alternatives and cloud-based applications are available to reduce the world’s paper dependence.
- If the option is available, have your company switch to paperless transactions.
- Use electronic storage for your materials. For example, save your events on an online calendar. Apps have become so advanced and connected that printing announcements and reminders are optional and only done when necessary.
- Switch to digital magazines and newspaper subscriptions.
- Software tools have allowed electronic collaboration. In paper collaboration, you have to print your work before you can have it reviewed. New edits would require another batch of printing. However, when you opt to share the document online, you allow recipients to include their ideas and make alterations before printing the final output.
- Maximize email and reduce paper mail. More companies prefer to communicate online nowadays. Shifting to electronic mailing also reduces the need for fax printing.
Paper is recyclable and reusable. Paper waste recycling is something that environmental advocates have pushed for many years. It doesn’t have to go straight into the trash can after use. With a bit of creativity, you can breathe new life into it. Getting creative with reusing paper is something that you, your family, or your coworkers can easily do.
- Many printed papers only utilize one side. You can cut them into smaller pieces and use the unutilized side for your notes.
- Don’t throw away old newspapers. You can save them for wrapping gifts during company events.
- Transform old and used paper into stunning decor for company events.
- Reuse cardboards to store inventory.
Paper Waste Management
With the proper reduction of waste and recycling methods, the economic and environmental benefits are tremendous. However, whether you are at home, in an office, or a big industry, paper waste is something that should not be taken for granted. It’s time paper-dependent companies should try to sort waste correctly or risk the cost of inefficient management and utilization of paper.