How to reduce waste by going digital

Blogs 9 May 2023

Taking steps to digitise your business can reduce your waste and minimise your environmental impact. Learn more about how you can go paperless in your business.

A bookshelf with papers on

Given that we live in an age now where your customers really do want to see your green credentials, there has never been a better time to considering digesting your paper records and taking your organisation’s processes online. With a heightened interest in environmental issues and the impact that we have on the world, more and more customers are making choices based on how environmentally friendly your organisation is. 

Across all industries, there has been a drive to reduce the amount of waste businesses produce, limit the distance goods and services must travel and find newer, greener technologies to generate electricity to power companies.  

Many businesses are reliant on paper records and often amass vast archives of valuable documents that cannot be destroyed. However, these can accumulate and often be unmanageable. They not only take up valuable space, but manually sorting through can be immensely time consuming and will distract your staff from other important tasks. 

Annually, 12.5 million tonnes of paper are used in the UK, with roughly two thirds of that recycled. The average UK household is said to dispose of six trees’ worth of paper per year. However, businesses struggle more to manage their waste – especially when so many aspects of our working lives have moved to the digital world. 

Making the switch to paperless records 

Businesses need to make the effort to go paperless, or at least ‘paperlite’. Moving your business processes to computer-based systems will reduce the need to keep physical paper records and will streamline day-to-day operations. Digitising your paper records, and the back catalogue that comes with them, is a massive step forward to running your business in a more sustainable way. Such records can be transferred quickly into a system that is quick and easily accessible. 

Document and image scanning allows you to digitise your entire records archive into compact digital file. The benefits of this include the timesaving it provides your company and staff as you will no longer have to manually sift through piles of documentation. It also frees up valuable office space which could lead to potential expansion. Once these records have been processed onto the digital realm, you can dispose of your paper records in a secure and sustainable manner. This could potentially minimise your companies’ environmental impact, reducing your carbon footprint and could be compliant with ISO 14001 Environmental Standard. 

The digital age we are now in has the power to dramatically reduce resource use and pollution. As stated, it does so by making the process much more efficient, replacing parts (if not all) of the physical supply chain. A thriving digital ecosystem can bring forth the innovative companies that have a part to play in tackling the climate crisis – and your company can be one of those. 

Streamlining your processes 

When digitising your business, the streamlining of processes must be considered even further with the addition of apps and other online processes. As we are all now used to online video hosting platforms, the digitisation of meetings is incredibly beneficial. Taking out the travel costs and emissions release for attending in-person meetings will reduce your business’s impact on the environment. Moreover, it is more economically viable for your business.  

Using apps can streamline your paperwork process as documents can be signed digitally without the need for paper copies, reducing your paper records and your companies’ carbon footprint. File transfer applications allow you to send large files and documents at the click of a button, taking out the need for printed paper copies and potentially postal service. If your business considers these applications, the environmental impact your business currently has could be reduced and you will see some cost-saving benefits also. 

Running events? E-ticketing may be the way forward. Physical copies of tickets on printed paper increase your environmental impact as a business, but e-ticketing lets customers and attendees of your event have scannable ticket barcodes on their phone. This is much more sustainable and would be in-line with the requirements set out in ISO 20121 Sustainable Events, which would be incredible for your business. However, consideration must be given to the investment that these systems need.  They can be costly but are worth it in the long run for the economic and environmental benefits.  

Lastly, using HMRC approved accountancy software will streamline your accountancy processes. Digitising your invoices, expenses and salaries will be beneficial for your business operations and can keep you compliant with new Making Tax Digital legislation

Next steps 

Bringing your business into the always advancing digital age will be beneficial for your day-to-day operations as they will be streamlined through digitising your paper records and utilising online applications. Not only this, but it will be more sustainable for your business and be more in line with the management processes of ISO 14001 and ISO 20121 as it is greener for the environment to reduce your paper records.  

Your carbon footprint is also reduced by minimising your paper records and using applications that streamline your operations. Keeping up with the ever-changing digital realm will be massively important for the sustainability and longevity of your business in future years. 

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