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The Impact of Paper Waste

Financial Costs

The costs of using paper inefficiently in the workplace are too significant to be ignored. The expenses from supplies such as toner and paper, as well as equipment maintenance can add up fast. More significant is all the staff time wasted adjusting printers and copiers, filing documents, and then trying to find them again—often just to throw them away. Some findings from productivity research studies:

  • Inefficient use of printers, copiers, and fax machines can waste between 1 and 3 percent of company revenue annually [1].
  • For every dollar spent on copying, companies incur another $6 in handling and distribution, and half of all documents printed are thrown away within 24 hours [2].
  • An average of 17% of everything printed is considered waste [3].

Environmental Costs

Using less paper can save your organization money and can also help with several environmental problems. Of all trees harvested for industrial use, 42% go to making paper. The pulp and paper industry is also the largest industrial user of water, the biggest water polluter, and the third largest emitter of global warming pollution in most industrialized nations [4].

Get Started

  1. Practices that Use Less Paper:  Learn about tried-and-true paper saving practices, and how to put them in place at your organization.
  2. Paperless Express:  This comprehensive and easy to follow guide provides tips and tools for office workers and managers in business, government, and other organizations. You will find steps to reduce paper at your desk, in the mail room, by using technology, and in many other ways.


[1] Gartner Group. (2001). Rightsizing Output Fleets: The Hidden Goldmine. 
[2] Hesseldahl, A. (2008, May 27). The New Push to Get Rid of Paper. BusinessWeek .
[3] Lexmark International. (2006). Retail Topped European League of Paper Wasters. 
[4] NRDC. (2006). Smart Paper Policies Are Good for Business. Natural Resources Defense Council's Website.