Junior CSV Engineer Becca Sweeney considers the implications of climate change and provides a handy breakdown of the ways you can make your business more environmentally friendly by going paperless.
Climate change has taken the world by storm, pardon the pun. The world is finally waking up to the crisis that has been hurtling towards us at an ever-increasing pace; the time to act was long ago. Now, change is coming whether we like it or not.
No one can deny that there has been a titanic shift in the public opinion on climate change. This year saw the biggest climate-change protest in history led by 16-year-old Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. Gone are the days where being environmentally aware meant hugging a tree barefoot in objection; protesters of all ages now strike in their thousands in the streets of every major city.
As the public grows more accepting of climate change it has subsequently become less accepting of businesses that don’t work to reduce their environmental impact. Customers now look for products that are sustainably produced or, at best, have less of an environmental impact than other comparable products. Companies are also progressively expected to be socially responsible and take steps to make their day-to-day processes more environmentally friendly. This push has been part of the reason that large companies like Swiss RE, Apple, IKEA and Nestlé have committed to 100 percent renewable energy.
“The time to act was long ago. Now, change is coming whether we like it or not.”
The UN has warned that the world is currently on track to warm by as much as 3.4C by the end of the century, a situation that would escalate disastrous heatwaves, flooding, droughts and societal unrest. These effects of global warming will affect businesses worldwide whether they like it or not. What can we take from this? That companies will need to look at how they can become more environmentally sustainable to both alleviate public pressure and help safeguard the future of the business and the world alike.
The question is, what can small and larger companies do to combat climate change? It’s simple; paperless. The paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world. Paper usage in an office has a massive impact on a company’s carbon footprint, not just from the cutting down of trees to produce the paper, but also on the fossil fuel power needed for printing, and moreover the chemicals involved in the method itself.
So, how does going paperless really help our planet?
- It cuts down on pollution
Making one tonne of paper emits more than 1.5 tonnes of the most dangerous and predominant greenhouse gas, CO2. Greenhouse gases threaten to alter what living organisms can live on this planet and where by raising the planet’s temperature. The world has only one-fifth of its “carbon budget” remaining in order to avoid warming the Earth more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The IPCC has said that the route to halting global temperature increase will not only depend on the phasing out of fossil fuels but also adopting methods of removing CO2 from the atmosphere itself. Those include planting trees, along with safeguarding existing forests. By going paperless, you will be helping to reduce C02 emissions while also sustaining forests; it’s a positive cycle of sustainability.
- It saves trees
The global use of paper has climbed by 400% in the past 40 years, resulting in rapid deforestation. Deforestation is the second major cause of global warming and is responsible for about 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Trees play a crucial role in absorbing CO2 from our atmosphere and generating oxygen to sustain life on our planet. Scientists say that deforestation in tropical rainforests releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all the cars and trucks on the world’s roads put together. By reducing or eliminating your use of paper possibly by going paperless, you are doing your bit to preserve the life of trees. Combatting deforestation has been identified as one of the most promising and cost-effective actions to lower emissions.
- It saves water
Three gallons of water are needed to make one sheet of paper. The world seems to forget that our water supply is finite, and it is up to each one of us to conserve water. As a company we can help to conserve the water in our already drying planet by going paperless.
- It reduces the impact of ink
The use of paper goes hand in hand with the use of ink, quite a nasty chemical. The adverse effects of ink on the environment begin at the manufacturing stage right through to disposal; it takes just under three litres of oil to produce one cartridge of ink. The manufacturing of just one single toner cartridge uses just under three litres of oil and is responsible for producing around 4.8kg CO2 per cartridge. Moreover, ink cartridges contain several chemicals that are harmful to the environment, which means proper disposal is essential as to not pollute the soil or water- 1 million cartridges per day are thrown away.
What’s even more worrying is that it takes 1,000 years for a printer cartridge to fully decompose in a landfill site. Recycling of your printer cartridges of course is beneficial to the environment with 97% of materials used in cartridges being recyclable. As we have seen from the figures, however, simply recycling isn’t enough anymore. Businesses need to think of more environmentally sustainable business practices like going paperless; no ink. no waste, no greenhouse gases.
Trees. Water. Carbon emissions. Chemicals. Waste. The environmental impact of paper production for use in document-intensive business workflows like the pharmaceutical and technology industry is significant, but avoidable. In an age when almost all else is digital, there’s clearly a better way. Yes, recycling has helped to curb the impact we are having on our planet, but this is no longer enough. As the saying goes, there is no Planet B. With businesses adapting the new digital age by going paperless, there’s no limit to the positive environmental impact that can roll out as a result.
On the 24th of October, Patrick Murray, the Compliant Cloud Technical SME for Pharma VIEW™ (Validated Integrated Enterprise Workflow) will discuss the merits of transforming regulated business from paper-based systems to validated workflows, using some common use cases as inspiration. Now is the best time to enter the world of validated workflows; the new paperless. Discover more here: https://compliantcloud.com/webinar/