My Green Life

Use your recycled printer paper twice

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Paper, and printing on it, cost money. Consuming paper resources can often be avoided, helping to save money and reduce the amount of timber used for this purpose.

A tonne of paper consumes approximately 20 full-grown trees, over 90,000 litres of water, over 1.2 tonnes of coal and an assortment of chemicals. According to the Federal Government's 2001 Green Office Guide (PDF), the production of a tonne of paper generates approximately 8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, while the production of a tonne of recycled paper emitts approximately 2 tonneses of greenhouse gases.

Every year, the average Australian office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of A4 paper, with approximately 50 per cent of this going straight to landfill. The following ideas will enable you to more than halve this figure, saving paper, forests and money.

How to do it now!

The 21st century mantra 'Reduce, Re-use, Recycle' is especially applicable to your daily office work with paper. When combined with the purchase of recycled paper and supporting the recycling of office paper, these steps can help cut your workplace  paper use by more than half.

Reduce the amount you print

The most effective way to save paper is to use less. We need to work electronically and manage our printing to use the least amount of paper possible. Here are some work practices that use less paper while also improving your productivity.

  • Work on, save, publish & distribute documents in electronic format. Define clear (and tight) criteria for when you print. By limiting the times you can print you will have to develop your electronic work habits, for example editing on screen, online collaboration, and taking meeting notes on laptop or tablet.
  • Check it before you print it. Train yourself to proof-read the document. Use the Spell Check and Print Preview functions of your word processing software before you print.
  • Edit and make comments on the soft copy - Revise draft documents using the Edit and Comment features of your word-processing software rather than a hard copy which you then need to re-enter into the soft copy.
  • Ensure all prints are double sidedThis reduces paper use by 50%per cent in one press of a button.
  • Distribute a single hard copyEstablish a routing procedure whereby the single copy is passed to several people for review.

Re-use paper

Inevitably, some paper will be used and will not be required any longer.

  • Re-use scrap paperCollect all scrap paper that is printed on only one side. Place in a reusable paper tray near printers for reuse. Be aware not to reuse confidential documents! These should be shredded.
  • Re-use paper to print non-presentation documentsMany print jobs can be done on the blank side of a used piece of A4.
  • Re-use paper for notepads. All those pieces of paper printed on one side that you no longer need make great notepads.

Recycle paper

Finally, when the sheet has been used on both sides, used as a doodle pad and made into a paper aeroplane, it's off to the recycler. Keep a box under your desk for recycled paper - and use it.

Establish a recycling program at work. If your workplace doesn't have a paper recycling program in place it's time for you to get active.

  • Do some research on establishing a successful paper recycling program. There are several (generally state government) sites that offer assistance, guides and support for establishing a paper recycling program. Even if there isn't a program in your state, you can read up on the other state programs, as they are proven winners.

Organisations that collect your office paper for recycling (and provide recycle bins etc.).

  1. Check if your local council waste collection service includes your office paper!
  2. Try the Planet Arc 'Recycling Near You' site, which has a great directory of recycling services around Australia.
  3. Try some of these paper recycling companies direct:

Additional resources

Rebates

Why is this action important?

Paper is a crushed wood product made with the addition of energy, chemicals and water. If an SME were to halve their average per office worker paper use per worker, they would save approximately $70 per employee per annum.

Reducing our use of wood will allow our forests to serve a more important role - collecting and storing carbon from the atmosphere and ameliorating the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting climate change, not to mention providing habitat for flora and fauna.

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