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How Much Paper Does Your Office Use Each Year? Tips for Reducing Paper Use

Kelly Glaser

Are you an average worker? If so, statisticians say you use around 10,000 sheets of paper every year.

If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. As a Managed Print provider, we can attest to the enormous amounts of paper that are fed through printers alone every single month. The bottom line is that the average American worker uses way too much paper. To put it in perspective, here are some facts to consider:

  • 4 billion trees are cut down each year to make paper
  • 16% of landfill solid waste is comprised of paper
  • In one year, the average American citizen will consume 800 million pounds of paper

If you’re having a hard time visualizing how much paper that really is, imagine 5.5 million printed copies of the Hunger Games Trilogy. In terms of trees, you would have to cut down every tree in New York City’s Central Park, or enough trees to build a city with 25,000 houses. [1]

No Office is Alike

The real issue is how that paper is being used or, in this case, not used. According to a recent survey, 70% of the total waste in offices is made up of paper and as much as 30% of print jobs are never even picked up from the printer. Even worse, 45% of printed paper ends up in the trash by the end of the day. When you consider that the total amount spent annually by U.S. companies on printed documents is $120 million, it’s clear that there is a lot of pointless printing in modern offices (and a lot of wasted money). [2]

Of course, no one is an average worker and there is no such thing as an average office.

I recently visited a small startup that operated out of two different offices. In one office, the company’s engineering team does the coding and support for a Cloud-based software system. These workers are coding all day and hardly ever speak to one another — that’s done on chat — and they almost never print anything. The lead programmer could barely understand why he needed a printer at all and was satisfied with an inexpensive multifunction machine.

Meanwhile, in the same company’s main office, marketing, sales and support staff had multiple printers running all day to publish reports, marketing materials, and more, and stacks of unread documents ended up being piled in bins next to the machines. These are two very different offices within the same company with very different needs: one office barely needed a printer while the other was in desperate need of a Managed Print solution.

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Stop Printing So Much

It might surprise you to know that even though we sell and service printers, we want you to print less.

Reducing paper usage isn’t just good for business; it’s good for the planet. Take a look around the office. What do you see?

  • Reams of wasted paper in the recycling bin?
  • No strategic supply management process?
  • Underutilized or inefficient printers?
  • Color copies that should be printed in black and white?

If that sounds familiar, then you need to manage your printers more effectively. We recommend a three-step approach to designing a print strategy that eliminates wasteful printing and matches your business needs.

  1. Evaluate your device use, output, supplies and viability to align them with a purchasing process
  2. Integrate best-of-class software and printer hardware into your current system
  3. Continuously assess your consumption based on actual usage — because it will always be in flux

Managed Print is ideal for controlling costs and can help ensure that your machines are helping you better serve your clients. To see how such a print partnership can benefit your company, download the Beginner's Guide to Managed Print Services. Then, reach out to the experts at the Gordon Flesch Company for a free, no obligation assessment of your company’s print environment.

[1] Blog, “How Much Paper is Used in One Day?” Esker Apr 2015
[2] Survey, “Paper Usage Statistics,” Statistic Brain, Oct 2016

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