Contributed by Peter Hanseen, M.P.A.

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Many parents feel the effects of wasteful actions on the part of their children; most commonly, children leaving the lights on. As soon as toddlers can reach a switch, to the time the teenager leaves the home, it seems that they not only neglect to turn off the lights when not in use, but they’ve honestly forgotten that such a function is possible. This forgetfulness is aided by one key contributing factor, they are completely insulated from any detrimental effect associated with leaving them on, such as wasting natural resources and their parents money. As a parent, you feel the impact of light switches being left on because you pay the electric bill. If only everyone in the house was as electricity conscious as the bill payer, the savings would be substantial and represent significant financial relief.

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Let me suggest that something similar happens in the typical office workplace as well, but with regards to the costly resource of paper and associated expenses that go to supporting that paper, such as toner, printers, fax machines, postage, etc. The same adults that on their own dime will be sure to turn off lights at home, forget about wasteful processes associated with commonplace office activities.

One would think a CFO or CEO would be anxious to eliminate any unnecessary expense as they look to streamline financial outlays. But, as it turns out, it seems in many instances paper and toner costs are looked at as acceptable, inevitable sunk costs of doing business. Everyone in the office is insulated from the negative effects of paper and toner waste because they don’t pay the bill, and the CFO and CEO often pay little heed because they accept the costs as part of doing business, or they determine they have bigger fish to fry.

Let’s look at some interesting global numbers with regards to the paper consumption portion of office operating costs. I realize paper consumption takes place in many more areas than office and educational facilities, but the office place is a large culprit in the consumption of paper. According to The Paperless Project, 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up trashed by the end of the day, and every 12 filing cabinets require(s) and additional employee to maintain.


Some interesting facts on paper consumption, as noted by The World Counts:

  1. Every single hour, the world consumes the equivalent of 2 pieces of paper for every person on earth.
  2. By weight, in America, Japan, and Europe an average person uses between 250 and 300 kilos of paper per year. In India, the number is 5 kilos, and some countries less than 1 kilo. If everyone used 200 kilos, there would be no trees left.
  3. It takes 10 liters of water to produce a single sheet of standard sized letter paper.
  4. 55% of the global paper supply comes from newly cut trees.
  5. Each ton of recycled paper can avoid the felling of 17 trees; save 1,440 liters of oil; 2.3 meters of landfill space; 4,000 kilowatts of energy, and 26,500 liters of water.

Once a company has recognized that paper-based expenses are no longer a necessity, it opens the door to begin looking for a solution to eliminate those expenses. One clear remedy to much of the office paper consumption equation is for an organization to make use of a good document management solution (DMS). Once we are enlightened to the facts surrounding the actual costs of paper consumption, like a light switch being turned on it should be very clear that taking relatively simple measures to eliminate or reduce the cost-footprint associated paper and its other ancillary expenses, will only lead to bottom line improvements for any organization. To see how eFileCabinet’s document management system solutions can benefit your organization, fill out the form on this page for a free demo.