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KPI of the Day – Sustainability: % Paper reduction

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Definition

Measures the decrease in the amount of paper used on a daily basis, as a result of reduction initiatives aimed at eliminating the use of unnecessary paper. While it is useful for determining total reduction, it does not account for specific reduction activities.

Purpose

To assess the degree of paper consumption that has been reduced following specific actions. From a sustainability perspective, monitoring this KPI contributes to an organization’s environmental responsibility, as it highlights decreases in its environmental footprint.

From an organizational perspective, it is an indicator of operational efficiency, as it implies reducing costs with purchasing, printing, handling and waste collection and disposal.

Recommendations

Paper consumption represents one of the most visible actions one can undertake in order to influence the environment whilst still sitting in their corporate office. At the same time, reducing said consumption is among the easiest sustainability initiatives a company can implement. Paper consumption creates a large environmental footprint, as 1,000 kg of A4 paper have been found to be roughly equivalent to 24.3 trees, 1,035.5 kg of solid waste produced and 2,662 kg of emissions released.

In addition to contributing to a reduced environmental footprint, this KPI also brings financial benefits when used properly. For a company consuming 140 tonnes of paper per year, the total yearly cost associated with print and copy can amount to around $3 million, including the cost of paper, depreciation of a mid-level laser printer, toner for double-sided printing and the associated electricity costs.

To increase their % Paper reduction, companies can implement several organization-wide initiatives, such as:

  • Increase the use of electronic documents instead of printed documents when possible – for instance printed client brochures can be made available upon request, otherwise soft copies can be provided as a rule
  • Deploy or expand paper saving software solutions, such as electronic invoicing, electronic payments and banking, electronic forms (applications, approvals, orders) and electronic workflow software
  • Make duplexing (printing or copying on both sides) a default practice throughout the organization
  • Implement policies meant to change print behavior, such as paperless meetings and training sessions using laptops and projectors, adding print campaign messages to email signatures and educating staff on the environmental impact of printing
  • Review and modify print output formatting, such as reducing default font size and line spacing in templates, reducing margins and header or footer sizes
  • Implement recycling and re-use initiatives

If you are interested in more Sustainability related KPIs, smartKPIs.com subscriptions provide access to +1,500 KPI examples. Our dedicated Library contains relevant resources to improve your KPI practices, and if you want to further improve your knowledge, feel free to explore our latest sustainability related publications – our white paper on Sustainability Reporting, The Health, Safety, Security and Environment KPI DictionaryThe KPI Dictionary Volume I: Functional Areas and The Resources KPI Dictionary.

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