Office resource efficiency

Use paper efficiently in your office

Guide

It's estimated that half of all office waste is paper-based, so the benefits to your business of reducing this are clear. It is relatively straightforward and inexpensive to cut the amount of money you spend on buying and disposing of paper.

Reduce office paper waste through electronic document management

With advanced business IT infrastructure becoming more accessible to all types of business, you can begin to reduce your office's reliance on paper with networked electronic documents and records management. To get the greatest benefits from reduction in paper use you need to carefully plan your business IT systems.

Reduce paper waste in your office

The cheapest option, and the best for the environment, is to reduce the amount of paper waste that your business produces. For example, you could:

  • Ensure that all photocopying and printing are produced in double-sided format on recycled paper. Question whether you need to produce copies at all.
  • Cancel junk mail and unwanted publications.
  • Avoid overproducing marketing and publicity material by reviewing distribution lists and regularly updating databases.
  • Use electronic communications where possible to reduce printing and faxing. Ensure that your staff are comfortable with new equipment and provide training where necessary. Encourage them not to print out emails unless necessary.
  • Ensure fax machines are set so they do not produce unwanted header or report sheets.
  • Reduce confidential waste costs by ensuring that the non-confidential paper collection is secure and give clear instructions to staff as to which material is strictly confidential.

Reuse and recycle paper in your office

Where you can't avoid producing waste paper, try to reuse it. For example, you could use paper printed on one side as scrap paper or message pads. You could also reuse envelopes - eg for internal use - and donate surplus card and paper to local schools or nurseries.

You should recycle paper rather than dispose of it with your general office waste - find information about licensed waste sites.

To ensure that paper is recycled you should:

  • Place paper recycling bins in all offices. A good guide is one bin between six staff and one next to each photocopier and printer. Use paper ream lids as additional desktop collection trays.
  • Ensure that cleaning staff support the recycling scheme and that emptying the recycling bins is part of their contracted work.
  • Promote the scheme to staff by putting up posters around the offices and on bins explaining the types of paper that can be recycled.
  • Provide staff with ongoing feedback about the scheme, including figures on the amount of paper collected. Suggest making a donation to charity or planting a tree when targets are met.

Choose more sustainable paper for your office

You should use as little new paper as possible because the environmental impacts of producing paper are considerable. Buy 100 per cent recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-accredited paper wherever possible.