Reducing the Environmental Impact of an Office
Well ahead of his time in 1975, head of Xero PARC, George Pake, imagined reading documents on a screen inevitably leading to a world where an office would be completely paperless by 1995. Now over 20 years ago since Pake’s predicted date, World Environment Day highlights that, despite technological advances, offices are still using a considerable amount of paper.
World Environment Day (WED) occurs on 5 June every year, and is the United Nation's principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. First held in 1974, it has been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environmental issues. And whilst the 2018 theme is to beat plastic pollution, businesses are encouraged to think; “if you can’t reuse it, refuse it”, not only with plastic but other products, including paper.
Research shows many organisations continue to rely on paper for numerous reasons, including established office processes and security concerns relating to digital technology2. With estimates that only 3% of Australian businesses have completely eliminated paper from their office procedures and 20% of businesses seeing paper consumption rapidly increasing, it’s important that organisations are responsibly recycling the paper they use. And when personal and confidential information is concerned this recycling must also be done securely and in line with privacy legislation.
On average, an Australian office will use 10,000 sheets of A4 paper per year, of which 50% will end up as garbage, says Australian Science. Paper recycling plays a pivotal role in helping to reduce the impact of paper use.According to Australian Science, creating one tonne of recycled paper consumes 50% less energy than virgin paper as well as only requiring 25% of the amount of bleach used new office paper. It also saves approximately 31,780 litres of water, 4 cubic metres of landfill and 27 kilograms of air pollutants.
With the risk of security breaches at an all-time high, it’s important that every workplace prioritises data security, while making a commitment to green office strategies and initiatives such as World Environment Day. The introduction of more stringent penalties under the new Notifiable Data Breach Scheme (NDB) and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), businesses should ensure their paper files are safe from a data security breach.
Partnering with a responsible data destruction company, such as Shred-it, gives businesses peace of mind that not only will sensitive documents be securely destroyed so they are compliant with privacy regulations, but that the destroyed documents are responsibly recycled and reused. This is one concrete, positive way of showing your business’ true commitment to a happier, healthier environment.
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The Guardian. 2010. Will we ever achieve the paperless office?.[ONLINE] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2010/apr/18/paperless-office. [Accessed 4 May 2018].
Nitro, (2018), The paper free office [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.gonitro.com/au/resources/ebooks-infographics/paperless-office-statistics-how-to-go-paperless [Accessed 4 May 2018].
Australian Science. 2014. Paper Consumption Impact in Australia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.australianscience.com.au/environmental-science/paper-consumption-impact-in-australia/. [Accessed 4 May 2018].