Office paper waste: A brief overview

Image of paper being wasted in an office

Although many businesses a fully digital, using technology such as laptops, mobiles and the internet of things to carry out day-to-day operations as a society, we are still pretty reliant on paper.

I get it. You’re probably thinking to yourself you don’t use paper in the office at all. But just take a moment to think about the number of times you’ve printed something off, or scribbled down something on some post-it notes or a notepad – this all adds up.

This blog will give you a brief overview of exactly how much paper offices waste per year, the environmental and business impact of this and exactly what you can do to help prevent this.

Download a copy of our eBook to learn more about the impact paper waste can have on your business.

Office paper waste statistics

  • The average office worker produces 4.5 pounds of paper waste each day
  • 10 sheets of paper are wasted each day due to misprinting
  • 86% of office workers don’t think twice about throwing away misprinted paper
  • The average office worker wastes approximately 10 pounds of paper each year due to incomplete documents
  • 30% of all the paper wasted in offices is due to inappropriate copying or printing out backups that are never used. 

Environmental impact of office paper waste

Paper waste is one of the most commonly recycled materials, yet it still poses a significant environmental threat. When we stop to think about the impact office paper waste has on the environment, it makes it easier to make a positive change.


Paper waste has become one of the leading environmental impacts in recent years. Deforestation is the main environmental impact of paper waste.

As we all know the production of paper means cutting down trees in order to make the products. This process depletes forests which in turn damages ecosystems and contributes to climate change. In some instances the paper purchased for offices can be those which have been made from recycled materials, however, the majority of the time this isn’t the case. 

Global warming

The paper we waste has a significant environmental impact on the environment and contributes greatly towards global warming and other environmental problems. The paper industry is also one of the biggest users of water, polluting rivers and streams with chemicals used in the production process.

To add to this, when the paper is disposed of, it often ends up in landfills rather than being recycled, contributing towards the production of methane and other greenhouse gases.

The business impact of office paper waste

Let’s face it, every business creates some level of paper waste from the family-owned small business in your village to the massive Ftse 100 company in the middle of the city. No matter your size the amount of paper you waste can have quite an impact on your business. 

High operational costs

Wasting paper in your office can introduce higher costs in regard to waste disposal. This is due to the paper being bulkier and heavier than other forms of waste, impacting the cost of both transporting the waste and disposing of it. This can also influence the rate of commercial dumping fees as well. 

Higher risk of a security breach

Paper waste is not only bad for the environment, but it can also pose a serious risk to the security of your business. This is largely down to the fact that sometimes business documents can contain sensitive information. Duplicate copies, misprinted documents and meeting notes that aren’t disposed of properly through avenues such as document shredding can make your business vulnerable to legal actions and heavy fines as a result of breaching data privacy laws such as GDPR. 

Diminished credibility

Environmental consciousness is becoming increasingly important to not just your staff, but your customers as well. If your business produces a lot of paper waste this may be viewed as careless or responsible, which can result in customers choosing to use a competitor over you.

Additionally, accumulating reams of paper in your office can result in a cluttered environment, resulting in lost documents, and misplaced files as well as frustrated employees and customers. 

How to reduce paper waste in the office

Paper is one of the most commonly used materials in offices, and it can be difficult to cut back on its use. However, there are a few practices you can adapt to make a dent in your office’s paper consumption.

Opt for Electronic Billing and Statements

In today’s digital age, there’s really no need to waste paper by mailing hard copies of required documents back and forth. There are plenty of effective, eco-friendly alternatives that can save your business time and money. The majority of utility companies will provide you with the option to go paperless, receiving all your bills and statements electronically. This is a great way to reduce paper waste in your office.

Stop Mailing Hard Copies of Documents

Companies such as DocuSign provide businesses with a tool to support the online signing of important business documents, mitigating the need to print contracts and other documents off. When it comes to reducing paper waste, all amends to contacts etc are done online, reducing the need to print various iterations which ultimately end up being disposed of. 

Document scanning

Secure document scanning services provide you with a robust and efficient way to electronically store important business documents in a legally compliant manner. 

Through the use of document scanning, you can reduce the need for paper in your day-to-day operations as once a document is scanned, it can be stored electronically and accessed at any time, anywhere. This also makes it easier and quicker to share documents within the business between colleagues, increasing the efficiency of your day-to-day operations. 

Office paper waste: Everything you need to know