The dream of a “paperless office” has given way to a “purposeful office” – an environment that embraces the responsible, sustainable selection, use, recovery and recycling of paper. Help your office work smarter and more efficiently by minimizing environmental impact and keeping paper out of landfills.
Not so long ago, the trash can was the “final destination” for just about everything in the office – empty soda bottles, stacks of sales reports and even spent 9-volt batteries from the portable Dictaphone.
While paper may seem relatively benign compared to plastic or chemical byproducts, it might surprise you to know that (according to recent EPA estimates) nearly 30 percent of all landfill waste is paper. And worst of all, most of this paper could have been recycled to make more paper.
It’s true that things are getting better. The amount of office paper recycled has increased each year since the EPA started keeping track, and paper-based materials continue to have the highest recovery rates of any recyclables. But we still need to do more – a recent study by the American Forest & Paper Association estimates that more than 10 million tons of office paper ended up in U.S. landfills in 2011.
Here are some helpful tips for achieving a more purposeful office by using paper in a smarter, more sustainable way:
Purchase responsibly – Minimize waste by choosing the right paper for the job (laser-optimized paper for laser printing, etc.) and consider purchasing recycled-content paper for everyday printing and duplication.
Form a “Green Team” – Identify and organize like-minded employees at your company and form a sustainability task force to make recommendations to management regarding paper waste collection and recycling.
Double down – Talk with your IT manager about double-sided printing and copying for draft documents or internal printouts. This will help your paper budget go further and streamline those bulky, multi-page reports and memos.
Look for a sign – Post reminders above your shared printers and copiers that encourage your colleagues to recycle office paper or direct them to strategically-placed recycling bins.
Protect and Serve – Choose paper that’s engineered with responsibly sourced fiber. Several independent organizations set industry-wide standards for paper chain-of-custody certification, in order to ensure paper is made from responsibly managed forests.
For more ideas to help you create a purposeful office, check out our office recycling guide online and share your own ideas below.