Using technology and better systems | WWF

Use less paper by effectively using computers and other technology

Today’s information and communication technologies provide many opportunities for businesses to function with far less paper. Electronic mail, Intranets, Internet and document scanners can radically reduce paper use, while also saving time and money.
Estimates show that 10-30% reduction in paper usage is possible with appropriate use of available technology.

Examples for how to use your computer to eliminate paper:
  • Use electronic means to communicate with customers, for press releases, for media relations.
  • Use e-mail instead of memos and faxes for announcing meetings, and targeted communications. Use group e-mail lists to "broadcast" important messages efficiently and inexpensively.
  • For editing and reviewing larger documents, transfer documents on disk or by e-mail rather than sending a printed copy.
  • Use electronic communications for directories, forms, bulletins, manuals, reports, and storage when possible (don't print them unless absolutely necessary).
  • Develop an Internet web page for frequently requested information.
  • Store documents in electronic archives using data compression software. This saves on filing cabinets and floor space.
  • Employ office Intranet solutions that allow open or password-protected access to important documents, presentations, or databases
  • Use electronic data interchange (EDI) technologies, like web-based secure credit card transfers and order forms, to reduce the need for cumbersome paper invoices, transaction records and confirmation letters.
  • Use Revision Features in Word Processing Software. Take advantage of on-screen editing features when making changes to draft documents, then send the new draft electronically.
Special paper saving features in Microsoft Excel
  • Use the "Fit to Page" feature in Microsoft Excel. This feature automatically re-scales output to print evenly on one or several pages.
  • Use the "Print Preview" feature to make sure the document prints on just one page. You may also want to change the paper orientation (portrait vs. landscape) for large spreadsheets to get more columns on a page.
Special paper saving features Microsoft PowerPoint
  • In PowerPoint, print "Handouts" not "Slides". Text in PowerPoint is generally large, so if you print using the "Slides" option, it will print one slide per page. If you need to make overheads, that is the way to go, but otherwise, the best and fastest way is to print "Handouts".

Case study

Bank of America, the largest bank in the US, reduced its paper consumption dramatically through online reports and forms, e-mail, double-sided copying, and lighter-weight papers. The total tonnage of paper used for internal operations decreased 32% between 2000 and 2004 (by over a billion sheets of paper).

Use better information systems

Often paper related costs are closely related to the organization of information in an office. Great savings are possible when a company things through its information management.
For example, companies can save money by:

a) centralizing files, reducing distribution lists and consolidating forms.

b) routing Memos and Newsletters.

  • If it is inappropriate to communicate a message by e mail, instead of making a copy for each person, route one copy around the office.
  • Ask originators to send fewer copies to your office.
  • Provide half-size sheets for short memos and letters.
c) Using two-way envelopes
This saves paper, inventory, warehousing, handling, printing and labelling costs. Print directly on envelopes rather than using labels. 

Save Paper!

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The Save Paper! section of the WWF website is a detailed guide that allows businesses and individuals to save paper and reduce its environmental impacts.