For years, many organizations have prioritized digitization in their records management initiatives, but paper is far from dead. According to a recent Access survey, over 80% of organizations still manage more than half their records in physical format. That’s a lot of paper!
With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, it’s a good time to evaluate the environmental impact of your organization’s records management practices. Paper production contributes significantly to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy consumption. As such, reducing paper usage in the office offers a myriad of benefits for the environment— and your organization.
In this blog post, we’ll explore ways to reduce paper usage in the office, including prioritizing born-digital records, enabling digital access, and following retention and disposition guidelines. These practices not only promote sustainability but can also help your organization improve its overall records management practices.
Good for the Environment and Business
By reducing paper usage in the office, a single organization can have a positive impact on the environment. Considering a typical office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper in a year— enough to fill a nine-square-foot filing cabinet— every step taken towards becoming a digital-first organization has an impact. In addition to the environmental benefits of preserving forests, reducing carbon emissions, and conserving energy, reducing paper use is beneficial to your organization from a business perspective.
During a recent webinar, Ian MacPherson, Business Development Executive at Access presented the benefits of transitioning into a digital-first organization and reducing reliance on paper. He explained that “If you take the time to develop a well-planned digital transformation, organizations will definitely see the benefit through increased compliance, improved collaboration across the organization, enhanced security, cost savings, and operational efficiencies.”
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3 Ways to Reduce Paper Usage in the Office
Prioritize Born-Digital Records
The National Archives defines born-digital records as “records that have been natively created in digital format (rather than digitized from paper records).”
Essentially, these records are created, maintained, and accessed digitally. With born-digital records, there’s zero paper use. By not creating paper records in the first place, your organization can reduce its reliance on paper and improve efficiency.
Digital records also allow for improved collaboration and communication as they can be accessed and shared across different platforms. Additionally, digital records can be easily searched and retrieved, reducing the time and effort required to locate specific information.
Enable Digital Access
Enabling digital access to records can help reduce the need for paper copies. By providing employees with digital access to records, they can access and review documents without needing to print them. This can help reduce paper waste and saves money on printing costs. Additionally, digital access can improve security by reducing the risk of physical documents being lost, stolen, or damaged.
For physical documents that are stored offsite, a scan-on-demand service with digital delivery allows you to access those documents quickly and without creating additional paper copies. In addition, digital delivery is faster and more cost-effective than physical delivery, and it reduces the number of delivery trucks on the road emitting greenhouse gases. It’s a win-win for business and the environment.
Follow Retention and Disposition Guidelines
Retention and disposition guidelines are important aspects of records management. Retention guidelines help ensure that records are retained for the appropriate amount of time and are disposed of properly when no longer needed. By following retention guidelines, your organization can reduce the amount of paper it retains and improve efficiency.
When disposing of physical records at the end of their retention period, partner with a shred provider that also recycles. Ensuring that recycling is part of your secure document shredding process is a great way to support corporate green initiatives and reduce waste.
By prioritizing born-digital records, enabling digital access, and following retention and disposition guidelines, your organization can reduce its reliance on paper and improve its overall records management practices— for Earth Day and beyond.
To learn more about how your organization can transition from paper-intensive to digital-first, watch this webinar: The Digital-First Organization: Five Steps to Get There.