How Going Paperless Reduces Your Company’s Carbon Footprint

By Joan Honig – Docuware: While it’s clear that the use of paper-based systems significantly reduces productivity and increases costs, reliance on paper also poses a significant risk to the environment. Going paperless reduces your impact on forests, decreases the amount of waste that is dumped into landfills, cuts energy use and helps lessen the impact of climate change.

According to the environmental advocacy group The World Counts, global production of paper and cardboard will amount to 420,000,000 tons in 2021. This corresponds to the world’s population of 7.9 billion people using two pieces of paper every hour. Despite an increasing interest in digitization, it’s time to double down and eliminate or reduce your paper use.

The World Counts also reports discouraging statistics that you might not have considered:

  • Producing 1 kilo (2.3 lbs.) of paper requires 2-3 times its weight in trees. If everyone used 200 kilos (441 lbs.) of paper per year there would be no trees left.
  • It takes 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of water to produce a single A4 sheet of paper.
  • The pulp and paper industry is the single largest industrial consumer of water in Western countries.
  • 55 percent of the global paper supply comes from newly cut trees.

Three environmental consequences of using paper

Forest loss

Nearly all the paper generated in the United States comes from wood harvested through logging. Of all the trees harvested for industrial use globally, 42% of them go into paper production. This rapid deforestation has a negative impact on wildlife populations and increases the risk of major soil erosion. Residential communities in heavily logged areas may also see increases in both air and water pollution when trees, which have a natural ability to absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, are removed. Most significantly, forest loss contributes to climate change.

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