There are plenty of reasons for a business to go paperless, ranging from reducing personnel to increasing efficiency and eliminating costly financial fraud. Because cost is the number one incentive for a company to conduct its business transactions electronically- and the amount of money a company can save is staggering—the environmental consequences of conducting business manually on paper are seldom mentioned and often completely ignored.

Just in case your business is still stuck on paper, or if you’ve already made the transition and simply want more reassurance, here’s an outline of some of the environmental benefits of going paperless, as well as some stunning statistics.

Environmental statistics related to using paper: According to
1.    The average office worker uses ten thousand sheets of paper each year.
2.    The United States uses 30% of the world’s paper.
3.    50% of paper production in the United States is used for printing or writing.
4.    The cost of using office paper can be up to 31 times the purchase price of the paper itself.

Even more often ignored are the environmental consequences of producing paper. Producing paper uses a variety of natural resources, including trees, water, and energy. Producing paper also creates outputs of waste and pollution.
1.    40% of wood pulp in the United States is used for paper production.
2.    It takes 1.5 cups of water to produce just one sheet of paper.
3.    Fewer trees mean more greenhouse gases.
4.    Paper mills produce a rank smell, add moisture to the air, and pollute the rivers they must be built on in order to operate.

Finally, there are the environmental costs of recycling paper that are often overlooked. In addition to the financial costs businesses and state programs incur through recycling, recycling paper also involves:
1.    The non-renewable fossil fuels necessary to transport recycling to the recycling center and beyond.
2.    The energy used by the recycling plant itself and the pollution emitted into the air as a result.
3.    Many businesses must pay for recycling, either directly or through increased business taxes.
4.    Businesses must also pay employees for the time it takes them to recycle, and even if this time seems minimal, it adds up.
However, this is not to say that businesses should abort all recycling operations; rather, they should simply reduce the need for recycling or the amount of recyclables they use. (The costs of garbage well outweigh the costs of recycling.)

This is where electronic recording comes into play. Electronic recording refers to making an office, enterprise, or household virtually paperless by streamlining everything paper into electronic documents. Businesses and households alike will discover that the happy side-effects of a paperless world include using less time and space, eliminating clutter, and as mentioned before, the endless money-saving benefits that seem to motivate even the least environmentally-conscious person.

Some basic money-motivating factors about paper use to keep in mind:
•    Going paperless eliminates the need for and therefore saves money on purchasing paper and ink, printing, mailing costs, and storage space and supplies.
•    The use of paper necessitates the purchase and use of expensive electronic equipment, such as copiers, fax machines, and paper shredders, as well as other office equipment like filing cabinets, folders, and organizers.
•    A paperless office needs fewer employees, saving money on payroll and benefits.
•    A paperless office can save money on rent by requiring significantly less operating space and fewer natural resources required for heat and electricity.
•    According to Consumer Reports, the cost of paper and ink used to print just one page of black text can be as high as 12.6 cents.

All types of businesses and industries are moving to an automated, paperless system for keeping track of all records, including:
•    Healthcare
•    Education
•    Finance
•    Services
•    Manufacturing
•    Government and Public Administration
•    Transportation
•    Technology

For example, physicians are some of the many professionals enjoying a wide range of benefits from switching to paperless recording systems. Some of these advantages involve:
1.    Electronically storing and retrieving patient charts, saving a lot of extra time during the day.
2.    Typing rather than handwriting information on patient charts and records, leaving more time for the doctor to devote to the patient and less room for illegibility.
3.    Improving the security of confidential patient information by requiring passwords that limit the number of staff members with access.
4.    Sending electronic copies of records to other physicians quickly and efficiently.
5.    Sending electronic prescriptions to pharmacies to expedite prescriptions and reduce prescription fraud.
6.    Allowing patients to check in electronically when they arrive, reducing the number of staff members they must employ.

Whether your motivation for transitioning to paperless recording for your own business, enterprise, or household is financial, environmental, or efficiency based, reducing paper and other resources always adds up to addressing all three issues at once, maximizing the benefits of paperless recording, regardless of the motivation.

ACOM Health