5 Innovative Ways Eco-Conscious Companies Are Reducing Paper Waste


Paper-heavy processes in your business can feel like an antiquated habit, yet one that’s tough to shake if they’re deeply ingrained in core processes. And aside from the inefficiencies that such outdated methodologies represent, there’s also the bigger issue of their environmental impact.

Sure, the surge in turn away from single-use plastics and towards paper packaging is a good thing – but when it comes to documentation, it’s better to eliminate tangible materials from the equation altogether, both for productivity and sustainability.

With all that taken into account, here’s a quick jaunt through the laundry list of tactics already being used by eco-conscious organizations to slash waste without compromise, leaving trees where they stand while empowering employees to get more done each day.

Cloud Storage Solutions as a Pro-Planet Choice

Transitioning to the cloud is something that eco-conscious companies are discovering the advantages of in their droves. There are two chief benefits to making the leap:

  • Businesses leveraging cloud services have witnessed a drastic reduction in physical file storage needs. This saves cash, as well as cutting down on energy usage and thus the carbon footprint of a company.
  • Migrating to the cloud can cause productivity to jump by 20%, and starting with storage can lead to eventually shifting entire IT infrastructures off-site.

Battling deforestation with the cloud’s assistance is critical given that paper consumption is expected to climb from 430 million metric tons in 2024 to more than 470 by 2032. The paperless approach proves far more appropriate, with brands aligning their customer-facing values with their internal processes in this manner.

The Sustainable Shift to Digital Contracts

Another thing that businesses chasing sustainability are doing is swiftly replacing paper contracts with their digital counterparts. This switch delivers a clear environmental dividend while also streamlining deal closures – on top of these additional perks:

  • Implementing a PDF editor for contract management slashes paper use and expedites negotiation processes – as well as reducing the likelihood of errors cropping up in mission-critical agreements.
  • Given that it takes around 10 liters (2.2 gallons) of water to pump out a single sheet of A4, it’s not just paper you’re saving by moving to digital contracts, but vast volumes of the world’s most precious resource.

More significant than these aspects, though, is the fact that clients, customers and partners will simply expect to have the option to sign contracts digitally. If this isn’t a possibility, then you not only look like you are behind the curve on eco issues but also behind the times in terms of tech.

Prioritizing Email Marketing Above Snail Mail Campaigns

Direct mail marketing was once an almost universally used promotional strategy, but it has lost its edge as businesses shift to keep up with eco-friendly practices. Email marketing shines bright as a result, for the following reasons:

  • Ditching physical mail for email campaigns is sustainable in two ways; first, it significantly reduces paper waste, particularly in the case of eliminating mass mail-outs; second, it cuts down on carbon emissions from postal transport. While the USPS has recently revealed plans to slash emissions by 40%, as well as saving $5 billion in the process, the elimination of all snail mail marketing by a business is even more advisable in the current climate.
  • A survey from Litmus indicates that a well-executed email marketing strategy can yield an ROI of 36 to 1 in a like-for-like dollar comparison, so the potential boost to business that this brings with it will further justify the move away from paper.

On top of this, email marketing lets businesses assess the impact of their campaigns on customers directly – and this data can inform future moves, including more operational efficiencies, so it really is a no-brainer of a dichotomy.

Three Cheers for Digital Invoicing and Receipts

In a move toward full-circle sustainability, savvy businesses are digitizing the final link in the consumer chain—transactions. A paper invoice might once have served well, but the preference has very much leaped over to PDFs, and this is good for companies and clients alike:

  • Unsurprisingly, swapping out paper invoices and receipts for digital versions greatly diminishes office waste – and is something you can encourage partners to do as well, spreading the word about sustainability via your own actions.
  • 25% of the household waste which is thrown out annually is made up of paper and cardboard – so by billing people electronically, businesses are doing their bit to help consumers hit their eco goals as well.

In all of this, it’s also worth pointing out that people appreciate not having their homes cluttered with invoices, receipts, bills and other detritus. So it’s as much a strategy to retain customers as it is to be greener as an organization.

The Positive Impact of Introducing Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials

Businesses that deal in physical products still need to use packaging of some kind to get them into the hands of customers. But from a sustainability perspective, that doesn’t mean just using paper in order to appease the anti-plastic crowd. You also need to do this efficiently and with a holistic approach to ecological soundness:

  • A report from Bain found that brands that implement best practices when designing and implementing packaging can reduce the volume of materials used by 20%, which in turn has the potential to cut the carbon footprint of their operations by as much as 40% within the next six years.
  • While paper packaging is naturally biodegradable, it’s also important to consider both its durability and its reusability. Reduction and reuse are the two elements that come before recycling in the war on waste.

Eco-friendly packaging is not defined solely by paper or cardboard, so don’t limit your options here if you want to keep pace with the most sustainable businesses.

The Bottom Line

Paper need not be your enemy, but equally it should not be used thoughtlessly by any business, particularly one with aspirations of an eco-focused nature. These innovative ideas represent a small sample of the wider array of strategies available, so don’t stop once you’ve ticked them all off, as forward momentum is necessary for continued environmental improvements.


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