Up to 2 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gases are the result of paper products, as it takes a significant amount of energy and resources to create and dispose of printed paper. Despite the trend of tablets, smart devices, and paperless offices, paper consumption continues to increase. When you implement digital imaging in your operations and make scanning a regular practice you will not just take strides to help the environment, you will also reduce operating expenses and simplify document recovery solutions.
Fast Facts about Paper Use
- It takes one tree to make 12,500 sheets of paper
- The average office worker uses up to 10,000 sheets of paper annually
- On average, documents are copied or printed 19 times
- Within 24 hours, 45 percent of these documents end up in the garbage or recycle bin
- It costs about $0.02 to print a document, $5 to file it, and $20 to retrieve it later
- Up to 20 percent of documents are misfiled
- The cost to find or reproduce a lost document is about $220
- Up to 50 percent of documents are never used because of printing errors and other mistakes
Environmental Benefits of Digital Imaging
- Consume less energy: Cutting down trees, turning them into paper products at mills, recycling paper, printing on paper, and handling paper waste requires fossil fuels and other natural resources. Photocopying, faxing, mailing, distributing, and storing documents also require energy. Scanning, sending, and viewing documents electronically will reduce energy costs and your offices’ carbon footprint.
- Less exposure to toxins: The ink and toner used in printers, fax machines, and copiers are toxic. A document scanning system will reduce your office’s exposure to the substances, make paper recycling simpler, and reduce toxic waste in landfills.
- Save trees: It takes about 768 million trees to accommodate the world’s annual paper needs. Scanning a document instead of printing it could save a company over $1,300 annually and at least five trees.
- Less waste: The average office produces about 350 pounds of waste. When an office decreases its paper usage, it reduces its overall waste. This is good for the planet and the bottom line.
How to Get Started with Document Scanning
While it might seem tempting to start scanning all the documents in your office, it’s important to have a plan with details such as:
- The documents to scan first
- The documents that require maintenance of hard copies
- How to organize the scanned documents
- Retrieving and sharing scanned documents
- How to protect documents from unauthorized personnel and malicious computer attacks
- Scanning procedures for the office (e.g., Who is responsible for scanning the documents? What storage and the file-sharing solution will you use? What documents will the office scan? What file formats will you use? What resolution will you use when scanning documents?)
- Document retention policies for scanned documents and hard copies
- Ways to reduce paper consumption in the future
- Ways to promote a more paperless environment
- Document recovery solutions in the event of a disaster or a network crash
To begin scanning documents in your office, you’ll need a computer and scanner. If you have a large number of documents that need scanning, it might be more cost-effective and less time-consuming to hire a service that will scan and organize the documents for you. Alternatively, you may purchase software that will help organize scanned documents.
When done correctly, document scanning can make an office more efficient and less wasteful. While the positive environmental impacts might not seem like much, they greatly contribute to the conservation efforts that other eco-conscious companies make. Paper will always be an essential tool in the business world. The way you manage it makes all the difference.