Is There a Paper Shortage?

After several years of challenges, supply chain woes have continued into 2023 and show no signs of slowing within the next few months.

Coupled with the economic uncertainty of inflation and rising costs, the difficulty in acquiring everything from metals to chemicals has made both consumer and commercial prices soar.

Unfortunately, now there is one more item to add to that list: paper.

Is there a paper shortage? In 2021, the Phoenix Group reported that demand outpaced supply and has continued to make paper of all sorts difficult to acquire. This could lead to a global paper shortage.

That makes this year’s World Paper Free Day all the more important to recognize.

When is World Paper Free Day?

First established by our partners at AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) a decade ago, World Paper Free Day is celebrated every year on November 6th.

The observation of this day is centered around encouraging people to give up using paper for a single day in order to reduce our reliance on it and shift more toward digital ways of working.

The benefits of going paperless include increased efficiency, tighter version control, and of course – all the fantastic sustainability benefits.

How to Reduce Paper Usage in the Workplace on World Paper Free Day?

Every organization has departments that tend to generate a huge amount of paper. That might be legal, finance, AP, procurement, or other functions. It’s impossible to tackle all these areas overnight but moving toward paper-free starts with going paper-light.

If you’re trying to reduce paper usage at your organization, here are a few things you and your teams can try:

Identify paper-intensive departments

Do an audit to understand why those areas of the organization are paper intensive. Is it because of the habits of your employees or is it because of forces beyond their control? For example, it’s common for procurement and finance departments to be paper-heavy because they are still receiving paper versions of invoices, purchase orders, and the like. Understanding why those areas are paper intensive is a great first step to streamlining those processes to include less paper. Starting small by encouraging digital-only invoicing, for example, can make a difference.

Establish a print policy

If your employees are in the habit of always printing out copies of documents they’re working with, one path forward might be to implement a policy that limits that. For instance, perhaps only certain types of documents could be permitted to be printed. This would require them to think twice about printing documents in general. Other governance ideas such as limiting the amount of paper that different departments are allotted could help. Additionally, using positive reinforcement such as recognizing and awarding departments that go “all digital” may also be an effective way to encourage less paper usage. As management theorist Peter Drucker has said, “what gets measured gets managed”.

Improve the digital experience

Unfortunately, it can be tough to get people to change their behaviors and ways of working. The best way to smooth the transition from paper-intensive to digital-first is to make the digital ways of working more efficient, easier to use, and effortless. That way it becomes their preferred way of working as opposed to something they’re mandated to do.

How to Reduce Paper Usage? Resources for Reducing Paper Intensive Processes in RIM

At Access, we strive to do our part on this day as well. To help you, we’ve collected a few of our best resources on how to reduce paper usage and move toward a digital-first organization. Check them out to learn more:


Digital Guide

Digital Guide

The Digital-First Organization: Five Steps to Get There Going Paperless? Avoiding the Legal Pitfalls of Digitization A Blueprint for Transforming Paper-Intensive Processes