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Our top 10 tips to make your work environment more eco-friendly

July 23 2019

Opting for a greener work environment allows you to reduce your environmental footprint at the office and position your business as a responsible corporate citizen – an increasingly important criterion among consumers. Here are the 10 best ways to reduce your ecological footprint, based on our experience with businesses that are already well ahead in this area.

1 – Go paperless
The greenest paper is no paper at all. According to a study by PaperKarma, if U.S. companies cut their paper use by just 10%, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 1.45 million metric tons – the equivalent of taking 280,000 vehicles off the road for an entire year! While going fully paperless may not be possible for all businesses, you can significantly reduce your consumption. Start by scanning paper documents and archiving them digitally. Doing so will also free up space taken by filing cabinets. Use software that’s designed to make your life easier, such as our scanning and data processing, integrated smart scanning or archiving and process automation software, and encourage your employees to revise documents on screen. Making corrections, revisions and updates on printed documents represents 90% of office waste in the United States!

2 – Choose energy-efficient equipment and know how to use it
Your budget may not allow you to purchase exclusively sustainable products, but you can focus on products which have a major impact on your footprint, such as electronic equipment. Technological advances have led to more energy-efficient office equipment, most of which includes features for reducing energy consumption. Ask one of our experts about how you can optimize the features available on your devices.

3 – Join a cartridge recycling program
An ink cartridge takes 400 to 1,000 years to decompose naturally. Companies that recycle their cartridges significantly reduce their environmental impact. Find out about cartridge recovery and recycling programs. At Groupe CT, we offer this service free of charge to all our customers. Recycled cartridges are inspected and reassembled to provide the same standards as new cartridges.

4 - Control paper use directly at the source
User authentication systems allow users to release a print job once in front of the printer, using a magnetic card or other identification system. This approach reduces paper consumption by minimizing waste (think of all the copies forgotten on the printer) and limiting the printing of non-essential documents. Also, be sure to program some default rules on your devices (black and white, two-sided, etc.) and to gradually eliminate devices that don’t support two-sided printing.

5 - Measure to make an impact
You can't control what you don't measure! Consider using Managed Print Services (MPS) – they offer businesses increased visibility of their printing activities. MPS solutions provide personalized reports and clear readings of usage data. Implementing an MPS program is a bigger project than an employee awareness plan, but it does generate significant results in terms of your environmental impact and costs. A study by Garner found that 10 to 30% of recurrent printing expenditures can be avoided through rigorous analysis of the printing environment.

6 - Encourage good practices in your business
By combining several small initiatives, you can achieve amazing results.

Here are some easily implantable ideas:
• Make your employees aware that they don't need to print their emails and help them better organize their inbox.
• Program your electronic devices to automatically shut down after work hours.
• Place recycling bins near photocopiers.
• Invite employees to bring a plant into the office to help improve air quality.
• Adjust the thermostat (offices are often overly air-conditioned in summer).
• Embrace the concept of paperless meetings by projecting your documents onto screens.
• Invite the human resources department to use electronic forms and consider equipping your accounts payable department with electronic document management software. Accounts payable tops the list of the most time-consuming and paper-intensive functions, so take a few minutes to read our article on the digital transformation of accounts payable.

7 - Promote best practices outside your business
A good corporate citizen ensures its supply chain partners also embrace responsible practices. Look for suppliers who share your environmental values. Does the company that produces your business cards use recycled paper? Does your cleaning company use biodegradable products? Ask your representatives to offer customers electronic billing and also offer them the option of automated payment. Finally, demand electronic billing from your suppliers.

8 - Join an electronic device recycling program
Electronic devices have become as essential to businesses as they are toxic to the environment. Make e-waste management an official company policy, with the goal of recycling everything you can recycle. Charity organizations make it easy to dispose of your old cell phones in a responsible manner. Plus, many manufacturers offer recycling programs for old computers. Here is a list of locations in Quebec where you can recycle your old electronics.

9 - Create a sustainable development committee
A sustainable development committee can do much more than simply raise awareness among your employees. Projects may include developing tips to promote green travel (biking, public transit, carpooling), assessing the impact of a teleworking policy, creating monthly challenges, etc. This committee could also educate your staff during lunch and learn sessions. Employee engagement is generally more effective than a memo from management.

10 - Offset your paper consumption by buying carbon credits
If you’ve made every effort to minimize your environmental footprint, there are several GHG offset programs available in Quebec and around the world. These programs typically rely on tree planting because plants naturally absorb carbon dioxide (CO₂) and can trap it for decades. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), forests currently absorb 25% of the carbon emitted by human activities. Companies can therefore take advantage of this capacity for natural CO₂ sequestration by purchasing carbon credits, which correspond to a certain number of trees planted. Carbon credits can be purchased from several Quebec websites, including Planetair.

Despite the best efforts made by businesses, paper isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. A study conducted by Canon in 2018 found that 36% of businesses are printing more often than they were 12 months ago. While wholly paperless environments may not predominate in the near future, there is a tendency to migrate to hybrid environments where electronic document management is integrated with paper management. The most realistic approach is to create an environment where document management processes are structured effectively, based on the reality of your business, while continuing to adopt responsible printing practices.

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