One in Five Businesses Admit to Increased Paper Use, Despite Environmental Concerns, Says New AIIM Report

More than three-quarters of organizations admit to ignoring environmental impact policies around reducing paper use.


SILVER SPRING, Md., Nov. 6, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- via PRWEB - More than one in five organizations (21%) are increasing their paper consumption, with many more ignoring official environmental policies to use less paper, according to new research by independent information management analysts, AIIM.

Fifty-six percent of respondents in the new study, 'Paper Wars 2014 – an update from the battlefield', have an environmental impact policy including reduced use of paper, but less than one-quarter actively promote it. The respondents estimate that within five years, all-digital working would halve paper storage space in their offices from 14 percent to seven percent.

More than half of respondents admitted to printing personal copies to take to a meeting or to add a signature. They also use printed copies for reading offline or out of the office (50%), and particularly to review and mark up (45%).

"What will it take for businesses to get the message that overuse of paper must stop – that it has a negative impact on both their business and the environment?" said AIIM President John Mancini. "Millions of unnecessary sheets of paper are printed every single day, but reducing reliance on paper means organizations can respond to customers faster, be more productive, save on storage and have a significant impact on the world we live in. We can't eliminate paper altogether but we can all be much smarter about using less."

AIIM launched 'Paper Wars 2014 – an update from the battlefield' today as part of World Paper Free Day 2014, an AIIM initiative created to show how much paper is wasted and how well we can manage without it.

Hundreds of the world's biggest organizations have shown their support, including IBM, Accenture, London Underground, Citigroup, US Department of Defense and HP. With around 300 million tons of paper produced each year, resulting in almost four billion trees cut down annually, World Paper Free Day encourages businesses and consumers to pledge to go paper-free for one day. For each registration, AIIM is making a donation to The Arbor Day Foundation, a charity that encourages the planting of trees.

Many respondents to the survey felt a lack of management initiatives (47%) and the perceived need for physical signatures (44%) were the main reasons why there is still so much paper in their business processes. Respondents also reported a general lack of understanding of paper-free options. Legal and finance departments were seen to be the most resistant to the introduction of paper-free working, followed by HR and general administration.

For those organizations that have already committed to reducing paper, 60% of respondents have seen ROI on their paper-free projects within 12 months, and more than three-quarters have done so within 18 months. The two biggest benefits from going paper-free are being able to give a faster response to customers and increased productivity.

"If helping to save the planet isn't enough for some organizations to reduce their use of paper, then perhaps the myriad business benefits enjoyed by those who have can be a factor," concluded John Mancini. "The fact of the matter is we need to use less paper. The paperless office will probably never arrive but achieving paper-free processes is a realistic goal for any business and there are many ways to capture, manage and store information digitally."

The research for 'Paper Wars 2014 – an update from the battlefield' was underwritten in part by EMC Corp., Esker Inc., IBML, I.R.I.S. Inc., Iron Mountain, Kofax, Opex Corp., Swiss Post Solutions and Spigraph Group. The full report is free to download

The survey was taken using a web-based tool by 444 individual members of the AIIM community between Sept 12, and Oct 7, 2014.

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