Office Paper Reduction

Is there a need to reduce the amount of office paper used and disposed by businesses? You bet! In 2014, over 225,000 tons of recyclable office paper was disposed in California, with over 49 percent from commercial sources! Paper is the largest component of California’s commercial waste stream, accounting for 20.4 percent of all commercial materials disposed. Furthermore, the commercial sector accounts for approximately 39 percent of all materials disposed in the state. See chart below. (Source: CalRecycle’s 2014 Solid Waste Characterization Study.)

2014 California Disposed Waste, Office Paper (225,482 tons)

Pie chart showing 2014 California Disposed Waste, Office Paper (225,482 tons)

Commercial Office Paper Disposed: 115,780 tons
Residential Office Paper Disposed: 106,506 tons
Commercial and Residential Self-Hauled Office Paper Disposed: 3,195 tons

It is clear that there is considerable opportunity for California businesses to reduce the amount of office paper disposed in California, and by doing so, they can save money as well as conserve resources. Below are some ways to encourage reduced paper use in your workplace:

Strategies for Encouraging Reduced Paper Use

  • Promote a “think before you copy” attitude. Employees should be encouraged to make sure they really need the copies they are making and not to make excess copies.
  • Adopt an organizational policy that all individual documents will be printed two-sided.
  • Set up computer software for default two-sided printing.
  • Promote getting the most out of paper by using both sides:
    • Encourage people to save and reuse single-sided paper at their desks.
    • Collect paper that has been used on one side for reuse in copiers, printers, and fax machines and to be made into scratch pads.
  • Encourage people to reuse items such as file folders at their desk; excess reusable items can be centrally collected.

Encouraging Recycling

  • Choose appropriate recycling containers. The size and style of recycling equipment varies. Many vendors will supply a variety of small-size containers for business recycling programs. You may wish to purchase your own personalized recycling bins with your organization’s logo or convert an existing trash container into a recycling container. Many recycling containers are made of recycled materials, so purchase and use them whenever possible.
  • Locate recycling bins strategically and label them clearly. Place recycling bins in all heavy traffic areas, common work areas, and most importantly, in locations where recyclables are typically generated.
  • Monitor recycling containers for contaminants on a regular basis. Also check trash cans for items that should be recycled.
  • Make it organizational policy to purchase and use products made with recycled materials. This “closes the recycling loop” by making sure end products and markets are created for recycled materials.
  • Ask your suppliers and contractors to make these recycled-content products available to you.
  • Use savings from waste prevention efforts to offset the costs of buying recycled products in those instances where they cost more.

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