Digital Sustainability – Reducing Paper Waste in the Office

What is Digital Sustainability? Business and automation processes can reduce paper usage, save time, and reduce waste.

By the team at The Cantec Group

Reducing carbon emissions has become an urgent priority, particularly in the workplace. Although the heavy industry is taking action over greenhouse gases, offices too can make a positive contribution towards saving the environment.

By introducing digital automation into your business, you can help significantly reduce harmful carbon emissions. Following green principles in the office means introducing digital sustainability.

What is Digital Sustainability?

The use of business automation, technology and Artificial Intelligence has increased dramatically in the last few years. They have enabled new methods to evolve such as working remotely from home. Communications have also changed, with an increased number of meetings being conducted via conference calling systems.

The Internet of Things is also helping improve connectivity and efficiency within many businesses. Interactions between B2B systems are also advancing in viability and speed. Making your office greener should increase general efficiency, improve productivity and ultimately achieve greater profits. An important step in creating a green office is reducing or eliminating paper consumption.

Digital Sustainability: A green office space with people working on laptops
Photo by Copernico on Unsplash

How the Paper Industry Affects the Environment

The manufacturing and logistics industries are inevitably acknowledged as the greatest contributors to global warming. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, they are responsible for 24% and 27% respectively of released carbon emissions. By comparison, the 9% of greenhouse gases emitted by the paper industry appear far less damaging. However, paper production has serious, more widespread implications for the environment.


The earth naturally maintains oxygen and carbon dioxide at optimal levels through its forests. Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and release oxygen. In recent years, the demand for timber and wood pulp has seen deforestation take place on an unprecedented scale. Research by the World Wildlife Fund shows that an area of forest comparable with a sports arena is cleared every two seconds.

Loss of Habitat

Every time part of a forest is cut down, it destroys the habitats of native species. Creatures such as jaguars, orangutans, lemurs and tree frogs are displaced. With nowhere left to go, an estimated 137 species, including plants and insects, become extinct every single day. Making your office greener by reducing paper consumption and introducing digital sustainability can help alleviate the suffering caused by deforestation.

Digital Sustainability versus Responsibly Sourced Paper

Perhaps your office has already taken steps to become greener by only using paper sourced from managed woodlands. These trees are systematically replaced, but the process of manufacturing paper can still have a negative environmental impact. It takes approximately thirteen litres of water to make just one single sheet of A4-sized paper.

The wastewater from the paper industry is usually contaminated with various by-products including sulphates. It takes a lot of resources to clean the water and make it suitable for reuse. In addition, the paper industry uses vast amounts of energy in manufacturing its products. However, regardless of where your office paper is sourced from, much of it is destined to be wasted.

How a Green Office Prevents Wasting Paper

According to, the average office employee manages to use 10,000 sheets of paper every single year. Astonishingly, at the end of each working day, an estimated 45% of the paper that has been used is simply thrown away. Wasting paper can seriously affect your business expenditure and reduce your profit potential. You can help rebalance your business finances by adopting a paperless strategy as part of your digital sustainability initiative.

Digital Sustainability: A green office space with people working on laptops
Photo by Copernico on Unsplash

How Process Automation can Make Your Business Greener

It is estimated that the average employee can spend up to 40% of their working day searching for information on paper documents stored in filing cabinets. They could use their time more wisely if your business introduced a system of process automation.

According to, 67% of businesses are currently using some form of process automation. This is a software-based, digital solution that provides your business with an automated workflow. Digitalisation generally improves efficiency and accuracy by removing human error. By using online tools, your business can achieve a competent yet simplified structure. When searching for documents, process automation makes the procedure fast and easy.

Versatile Storage and Accessibility

When your business invests in automation, storage becomes less of a problem. To begin with, your premises no longer have to devote such extensive floor space or office furniture to storing thousands of pieces of paper packed with information. Instead, documents are usually stored off-site in cloud facilities. A great advantage of this virtual storage method is the ease of accessibility. Automation allows you to locate precise documents almost instantly. In addition, authorised employees can access the files from any location instead of having to search in the office itself. Installing a largely paperless, automated system should increase the workflow and productivity of your business.

How does Process Automation Work?

Process automation involves advanced Artificial Intelligence software. It has been specifically developed to deal with the mundane, repetitive tasks that are so often prevalent in any business or office. These may include data input, data retrieval, processing forms, sending alerts and e-mails, or connecting to another business system. It provides your business with reliable, error-free work that’s fast and remarkably prompt. In effect, a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) system saves your business time, money and resources.

How Digital Sustainability Saves Resources

Adopting a paperless system reduces the amount of hardware you may be required to purchase. Using traditional paper systems for processes such as sending invoices and communicating with customers often results in printing documents. The recommended ratio of printers throughout the average business is one printer for every four employees. As your business makes the transition from traditional paper to digital sustainability, you should need much fewer pieces of printing hardware. This should lead to less ink being required, a reduction in energy consumption and lower maintenance costs. A manged print service would be ideal here too.

Digital Sustainability: A green office space with people working on laptops
Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash

Green Automation and Consumer Satisfaction

Once your office is greener than it used to be, you should be aware of how streamlined it has become. Process automation enables all types of formats, including business-to-business, to operate with greater efficiency. Sustainability is now a major concern for consumers. Data collated by indicates that at least one-third of consumers make purchases based on a company’s green credentials.

Up to 73% of CEOs now place green ambitions and process automation in their main list of objectives. All types of businesses are constantly searching for methods to give them a competitive edge over their rivals. As more companies convert to digitalisation, achieving greater efficiency and customer satisfaction in the process, other businesses will eventually need to follow suit simply to survive.

Recycling for a Green Office Environment

Green sustainability includes making the best use of your resources. According to, 40 million tons of electronic devices are annually discarded. This mountain of e-waste is easier to visualise as 800 laptops are being thrown away every second. Although technology continues to develop at a frenetic pace, yesterday’s computer hardware is usually still perfectly attuned to contemporary software.

The refurbishment of equipment such as high-powered PCs and laptops is currently a convenient, cost-effective method of upgrading your office systems. You should find appropriate models that can easily accommodate digital sustainability and process automation software. Increased demand for recycled equipment should help reduce the current estimation of 70% of toxic e-waste being regularly added to overflowing landfill sites.

Benefits of Digital Sustainability

Incorporating digital sustainability into your business has many advantages. Your actions should contribute to reducing collective carbon emissions. This is beneficial for the environment, helping to conserve valuable resources such as rainforests, and preventing pollution of groundwater and land. Many of these benefits are not directly visible within your business. However, you should soon discover for yourself how your company can be improved by a program of green sustainability:

  • Greater efficiency between departments
  • Increased communication and collaboration between business-to-business
  • Fast, streamlined services
  • Efficient data storage solutions
  • Significant reduction in use and expense of paper
  • Higher productivity
  • High level of accuracy through process automation
  • Employees are more motivated when released from repetitive tasks
  • Improved customer and client satisfaction
  • Reduction in running costs
  • Responsible recycling program and use of refurbished equipment


Ultimately, business success is only attainable if customer satisfaction and loyalty are reliably consistent. By introducing green sustainability, your company is placing itself at the forefront of a competitive market where environmental issues are currently highly influential. Process automation is considered fast, efficient and largely error-free compared to traditional methods involving vast quantities of paper. Significantly reducing the amount of paper your business uses is an ideal starting point when creating a green office. Process automation and digital sustainability have many benefits for the environment and business profit.